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Google gets touchy on antitrust

Google in a blog post took on a Washington Post columnist who opined that the search giant should be more of a target by antitrust regulators. Is this the best use of Google's time?

Google in a blog post took on a Washington Post columnist who opined that the search giant should be more of a target by antitrust regulators. Is this the best use of Google's time?

With the response to Steven Pearlstein, Google highlighted how it has become a wee bit touchy about the antitrust issue. And for good reason: Every Google acquisition will raise regulator interest. Over the long haul, Google could be limited.

Pearlstein writes in a blog post questioning whether Google has become too powerful:

The question now is how much bigger and more dominant we want this innovative and ambitious company to become...Where I have a problem, however, is in allowing Google to buy its way into new markets and new technologies, particularly when the firms being bought already have a dominant position in their respective market niches.

In a nutshell, Pearlstein argues the build vs. buy equation should skew toward build from a regulator perspective.

Google wasn't having it. Google's key points are that all companies make build vs. buy decisions. What's wrong with an acquisition? Google also notes that there are other companies competing for these acquisitions. Meanwhile, Google argues acquisitions are typically good for consumers and more efficient. Those last points may be a bit debatable, but Google was smart by citing Oracle's track record.

While you can go back and forth on the Google-acquisition debate, one thing is certain. Google can't allow regulators to scrutinize every little---and not so little---acquisition. And that fact means panning a Washington Post columnist every once in a while.