Google: Pot, kettle, black, Chrome OS and a potential antitrust

Google: Pot, kettle, black, Chrome OS and a potential antitrust

Summary: Google will be including their browser, Chrome, in their new operating system, Chrome OS. Even though Google disapproved Microsoft's efforts to keep Internet Explorer as part of Windows, they are seemingly entirely contradicting themselves. Hmmm? Article

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Last week, TechCrunch posted some more screenshots which allegedly purport Google's new operating system, Chrome OS in the works.

What struck me was the number of Google products already bundled in the operating system, as you can see:

Now, I've mentioned before the tit-for-tat battle over Internet Explorer and the dispute in an ever-continuing scuffle between the EU and Microsoft, but what my colleague Mary Jo Foley has mentioned some time ago was that Google stepped into the row.

To cut a long story short, the EU was annoyed at Internet Explorer being included in Windows because it dominated the market by bundling a browser with an operating system. Google stepped in because they have a browser, Chrome, which has a smaller market-share but is steadily increasing.

But now Google is working on an operating system to directly rival Microsoft, which in itself was a bold yet brave move. In the meantime, Microsoft is still being anti-competitive in their "let's crush the rival [Google] and make one hell of a spectacle about it". I wasn't happy.

After looking through a number of posts which offer clues as to what is in Google's highly anticipated operating system, most of the "applications" provided will run through the browser. But the rest - such as Google Earth, Google Chrome and Google Talk will be bundled with the operating system.

Google Chrome is the Internet Explorer equivalent, clearly, whereas the remaining applications rival those of Windows Live. The comparison is important to note.

Why can't Microsoft ship a Windows edition without including a browser (or at least come under fire from a zillion lawsuits) yet Google can? And with this, Google is entirely contradicting itself by doing something it opposed Microsoft from doing. Just because they have a smaller market-share doesn't exempt them from the practice.

On an interesting note, Prof. Eric Clemons who specialises in this field claims:

"The fact is, Google almost doesn't have any competitors. Google could kill anything it wants to."

While even I initially thought the quote was misguided and just plain wrong, he goes on to explain. For instance, the price of most products Google provides to its users: free. Android is provided as a free open-source operating system and so will Chrome OS. I can understand the antitrust motions for Microsoft as it is providing a paid-for operating system whereas in terms of free operating systems, besides Linux, there aren't any.

Regardless of this, does the antitrust concept solely rely on paid-for software? Whether or not a product is free to the end user would not stop it from being anti-competitive because the reign Google has over the "free Internet" is huge.

By providing a product for free can entirely alienate an entire market. Revenues can be generated online nowadays through online advertisements and user information being shared between companies. If a company can afford to invest millions into a free operating system tied in with their search engine which offers advertising already, the price would benchmark at $0 and there could potentially never be another paid-for operating system again.

How do you compete with free? By providing a better, more sophisticated free. From there, the online world builds up further and further as a supply of money-making advertisements, and the concept of revenue generation has changed forever. The free operating system manufacturers would earn money as they go through users' browsing rather than the numbers of product box-set's they sell.

This is where I want you to come in. Please, by all means, jump in at any point because frankly, I cannot see how Google can progress forwards without kicking up one almighty antitrust suit which could not only potentially destroy the company in revenue but reputation. And in comparison to Microsoft, Google may well be a polished turd but at least it's pleasing on the senses.

TalkBack.

Topics: Operating Systems, Enterprise Software, Google, Security, Software

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30 comments
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  • Antitrust and free

    You said : "Why can?t Microsoft ship a Windows
    edition without including a browser (or at
    least come under fire from a zillion lawsuits)
    yet Google can? And with this, Google is
    entirely contradicting itself by doing
    something it opposed Microsoft from doing. Just
    because they have a smaller market-share
    doesn?t exempt them from the practice."

    Yes it does. Chrome OS has a zero market share
    and Chrome browser has a minuscule one.
    Therefore antitrust considerations do not apply
    UNLESS they are levering an existing monopoly
    to dominate a related market.

    It is hard to argue that a monopoly in online
    advertising is related to either an OS or a
    browser IMHO, at least at this stage.

    Advertising has paid for free stuff for eons.
    Just because that may render other companies'
    products uncompetitive, does not in my view
    make it "bad" from a competitive standpoint. If
    I can get stuff for free, financed by
    advertising, I'll take it, given it is not too
    intrusive and that privacy considerations are
    addressed.

    When you include all the open source free SW,
    which does not rely on advertising, into the
    equation, all the commercial providers of
    generic SW are in for a rough ride.

    That is the new world order. Sell your MS
    shares.
    Economister
  • Apple should also be under fire.

    ----Why can?t Microsoft ship a Windows edition without including a browser (or at least come under fire from a zillion lawsuits) yet Google can?----

    Well, what about Apple and its tight integration of Safari on the Mac? They are all doing the same bundling but then throwing a bag of flaming (you know what) at Microsoft in an effort to become their own monopoly.

    It all just stinks.
    jznoy-dallas
    • World dominance,.....

      every company's wet dream. ;-)
      Economister
  • Google is extending its search monopoly everywhere

    I personally have no problem with a company leveraging its monopoly in one market, to enter another. I don't believe that is an issue in the US. However in Europe, MS continually catches grief when it tries to leverage Windows to advance its position in other markets. The thing is, that is precisely what Google is doing with its search engine. Every time Google adds a link to a service from its search home page, it is guilty of leveraging its search monopoly to dominate other markets - or at least that is how European monopoly thinking goes. Things only get worse for Google when it extends its search engine into its own PC and mobile OSs. That's why I've said before, those who live in monopoly glass houses, should not throw stones - the way Google has been doing with MS.
    P. Douglas
    • It depends....

      You said: "I personally have no problem with a
      company leveraging its monopoly in one market, to
      enter another."

      If a monopoly allows a company to extract monopoly
      profits in an existing or new market, that harms
      the consumer, which IS a problem. That is what
      antitrust legislation is about.
      Economister
      • In the US ...

        ... antitrust legislation is about monopolies illegally maintaining their monopolies by foreclosing competition. It is not really about preventing companines from leveraging their monopolies when entering other markets. US courts are skeptical about the illegality of the second form of monopoly behavior.
        P. Douglas
  • MS IE not on Chrome OS

    Microsoft does not have any software written for Chrome OS. Neither do
    they have a web browser for Mac OS X, though they used to have one for
    Mac OS 7-9 which they stopped developing.
    On the other hand, Google does have its browser for Windows.

    If Microsoft made Internet Explorer for Chrome OS, and Google did not
    allow it, then there might be an argument.
    gigogogogown
  • Another Reason

    Another reason why I've closed my Gmail account, opened an MS Live email account, and changed the default search engine on our PCs to Bing! It may not be perfect, but at least it ain't Google! :)
    Cosmo54
    • That's just

      trading one evil for the other, isn't it? you see the problem is, everyone does this. Sony makes your life extra miserable if you want to use their gadgets with any other platform (think memory sticks)

      services from the same company tend to work well with each other. and if they don't that means there's something horribly wrong with their development process.

      if you were really against anti-monopolistic strategies in the tech industry, you should spread your services out over a whole array of providers.
      unknownweirdo@...
      • Not with MS

        "services from the same company tend to work well with each other"
        Uhh Vista & Visual Studio, pasting Office 2007 text into TinyMCE and then viewing the results in IE... I know there's tons more but I just woke up.
        T1Oracle
  • First, Google does not have a monopoly, so, antitrust laws do not apply.

    Second, Chrome the browser, and Chrome the OS are open
    source, and anybody can mix and match as the please.
    Microsoft prohibited such mixing and matching.

    But, in any case, if Chrome OS every got to over 90% of
    the market, they would probably have to take the browser
    out.
    DonnieBoy
  • RE: Google: Pot, kettle, black, Chrome OS and a potential antitrust

    First, technically, it is not a monopoly, monopoly is when there are no alternatives, and in the search provider we have Google, Bong, Yahoo, etc, granted Google has the biggest share.

    Second, the law is the law and it must be applied equally, if microsoft is being sued for bundle ITS browser with ITS operating system (which by the way it is not a monopoly either because they are not the only one in the OS market) why should Google do the same and not be sued for it?

    Third, Linux is not the only free operating system there is, to begin with Linux is not even an OS, just a kernel, and Chrome OS wont be the only option beside GNU/Linux for free OS, there are more. To the writer of the article, please do not write misleading information in this regard.

    That's all, just my two cents.
    blood_omen_666
    • Incorrect

      "Second, the law is the law and it must be
      applied equally, if microsoft is being sued for
      bundle ITS browser with ITS operating system
      (which by the way it is not a monopoly either
      because they are not the only one in the OS
      market) why should Google do the same and not
      be sued for it?"

      No, certain laws (antitrust) apply PRIMARILY to
      monopolies or companies with dominant market
      positions. That is the whole point of anti
      trust. Companies are NOT NECESSARILY equal
      before the law. The only part (I believe) that
      would apply to ALL, is "no collusion".

      Someone correct me if I am wrong.
      Economister
      • still incorrect

        a company does not have to be a monopoly for anti-trust laws to apply.

        Anti-trust also applies to companies using illegal tactics to gain a monopoly.

        It's not just for punishment after the fact.
        rtk
        • I think my post covers that (nt)

          nt
          Economister
      • RE: Google: Pot, kettle, black, Chrome OS and a potential antitrust

        @Economister, corrrect. Another example is achieving market dominance through predatory pricing. Like "free" or nearly so- John D. Rockefeller's m.o. But Google's not there yet, since they don't have overwhelming market share.
        djbananas
    • "microsoft is being sued for bundle ITS browser"

      Bundling had nothing to do with the suit. MS was getting reamed for baking it into the OS with no real way to remove it (and rightly so). If Google does this with the Chrome browser then I can see where anti trust would come into play.
      Dave32265
  • What I can't understand is...

    What I can't understand now is... why is creating software to sell and make money so bad now?


    -MS is a for-profit software company...making software is the primary way they make money
    * Main source of imcome is selling software

    -Google is a for-profit too. They make money through advertisments. Making a product that attracts a lot of ads is what bring in the money.
    * Main source of income is advertising..marketing, etc...

    -Apple, IBM, SUN....all are for-profit hardware companies...selling hardware is how they make money.
    * Main source of income is selling hardware

    -Red Hat is a for-profit company that makes its money by selling professional services like subscription based support.
    * Main source of income is selling professional services


    Why is it accpetable to destroy the income engine of one company to better yours?
    Is it because MS did it....are we now supposed to do evil because someone else did evil???

    OK, we know MS did and maybe still do have some bad business practices, but it seems like the other companies
    are doing the same thing...just in another fasion.

    So is the new IT business model strategy to give all software away for free and make money by selling hardware, subscriptions, professinal services and cash in on advertisement?
    Why is the software developer career getting the shaft?
    Yeah, some of us can still make money creating software that will eventually be used to in another form to make money.
    But why is creating software to sell so bad now.
    Just about any software package you want to buy exist in open source form somewhere.

    Would the view of Apple, Sun, IBM be different if they gave away the hardware for free, but tried to capitalize on services, subscriptions and advertisements?

    People always want something for nothing. If everything was free, what would our way of life be like.

    Why don't Red Hat offer its services and subscritions for free?
    Why don't Google give away the code to their engine and allow for other companies to create their version of a search engine and make money?
    Why can't Apple sell a MAC for $430?
    iceman357
    • It is not bad

      Every company is in the business to make money,
      and needs to do so to survive. This has little
      to do with MS having done bad things. Most
      large companies have been guilty of less than
      model conduct at one time or another. The
      corporate environment is however "survival of
      the fittest". You have to be ruthless at times
      to survive/succeed.

      "Why is it acceptable to destroy the income
      engine of one company to better yours?"

      It is called competition. That is how it is
      supposed to be. No company is entitled to make
      money. Of someone can invent a better mouse
      trap, they will destroy you. Consumers benefit.

      "So is the new IT business model strategy to
      give all software away for free and make money
      by selling hardware, subscriptions, professinal
      services and cash in on advertisement?"

      Probably, at least for commodity SW. SW is
      becoming worth less and less. It is a
      relatively mature field.

      "Why is the software developer career getting
      the shaft?
      Yeah, some of us can still make money creating
      software that will eventually be used to in
      another form to make money.
      But why is creating software to sell so bad
      now."

      It is not "bad". Why are there no more watch
      makers or shoe makers? Because new items are so
      cheap it does not make sense to fix the old
      ones. There are still opportunities in the SW
      field, but as SW is commoditized and lines of
      code reused, there may not the same demand as
      before. Nobody set out to punish shoemakers or
      watchmakers. Their services became redundant as
      technology evolved? This is a necessary
      reallocation of resources to allow us to make
      economic progress. Many people will now have
      two or three different careers in a lifetime.
      You have to be flexible and be willing to re-
      educate/retrain yourself.

      "Would the view of Apple, Sun, IBM be different
      if they gave away the hardware for free, but
      tried to capitalize on services, subscriptions
      and advertisements?"

      Not much different, and if they could make more
      money that way, they should go for it. If you
      give away hardware and people figure out how to
      get what they want from it on their own
      however, you are up the creek.

      "People always want something for nothing. If
      everything was free, what would our way of life
      be like."

      My first VCR cost almost $1000 ($1500 now) and
      my first microwave was $850 ($1275 now). Thank
      goodness for technological progress. If my
      microwave breaks I buy a new one without
      thinking twice. Computers were $3000 to $5000
      for years and years. Do you want to return to
      those days? Not me. The cheaper we can get
      stuff, the richer we are. Free is OK with me, I
      can spend the money saved elsewhere and you may
      be able to work where I spend the money I
      saved.

      "Why don't Red Hat offer its services and
      subscritions for free?
      Why don't Google give away the code to their
      engine and allow for other companies to create
      their version of a search engine and make
      money?"

      You can probably figure out the answers to
      those on your own.





      Economister
    • No one is saying...

      creating software to sell and make money is bad. Even open source software is being sold and sure, companies do have the right to make money. The problem is, companies like MS do it illegally and get away with it. IMHO playing by the rules is important.
      Dave32265