As Microsoft seeks to turn its experience of messing with European legislators to its advantage by tee'ing up Google for a dose of messy litigation, I have to ask myself: who cares? Why can't we just ignore this sideshow? Of course we can't. Any potential litigation carries with it the prospect of unmasking all manner of dirty tricks. As Garret Rodgers says:
If things go Microsoft’s way, they can no longer bereferenced as a “convicted monopoly”by Google without Google sounding really hypocritical.
One of my more witty Twitter followers has a different take seeing this as Microsoft:
...helping install Google into the cynical megacorp category, out of the innocent goldenballs category they've been in since 1998
Google took a firm step in that direction with the Buzz fiasco and without Microsoft's help. And let's not ignore the $761 million Google pocketed from licensing GAPE, Postini and its quietly growing set of enterprise application services. It may only be 3% of Google's earnings but it is the number that is striking. Any enterprise vendor turning over more than $500 million has importance in the market. Microsoft wants us to know that but more important grab a piece of the pie itself. Who can blame them?
There is a pattern emerging here. Don't like what a competitor is doing? Sue them. Paint them as evil. It's the last gasp of a company that's run out of ideas. Oracle is at it and now Microsoft.
Litigation though is not the way and hence my reason for arguing that we should ignore it. If decision makers operate on that basis then you can be darned sure they'll be waiving their ability to take advantage of innovation. If as media we ignore these spats then Microsoft doesn't get the air it wants to promote its arguments. Those with less attention to analysis and more to page views will lazily pick this up and pontificate as though it makes sense. They will be doing their readers a dis-service.
Does this mean I am implicitly supporting Google? Hell no. I have my own concerns with that company. Those are based on what I see as its naive attitude to privacy in the context of a business environment. It's not a matter for litigation but contract negotiation. There is no way I want to stop Google leading the charge of innovating and disrupting perceived computing norms and truths. But I'm darned if I'm going to join in the group think around this topic.