Schmidt: Google aims to avoid Microsoft's antitrust mistakes

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that large companies are always worried about antitrust issues, but the search giant is working to "not make the mistakes, which in my view were quite tragic, that Microsoft made."Schmidt made the remarks in a long interview with the Financial Times.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that large companies are always worried about antitrust issues, but the search giant is working to "not make the mistakes, which in my view were quite tragic, that Microsoft made."

Schmidt made the remarks in a long interview with the Financial Times. While a decent bit of focus was on Google's relationships with newspapers, Schmidt's comments on antitrust were notable. It's unclear how the Obama administration will approach antitrust issues. 

For the most part, Schmidt stuck to Google's traditional antitrust line. The search giant maintains that users can simply go elsewhere. 

Schmidt said:

I’m not going to pass judgment on Microsoft. They are where they are and they suffer from the mistakes that they made. But from our perspective, the fact that we’re large and we do something important, which is information and is not in itself a violation of law. It has to do with how you behave when that occurs. And we operate under a set of principles which we hold very dearly, which focus on end users, and to do so without regard to the other constituents of our business. So for example, we make a commitment to our end users that we’ll let you take your personal information with you if you become dissatisfied with Google. And the good news is that most people don’t and most people stay with Google and, in fact, they get happier and happier and happier. But the fact of the matter is, since we don’t trap you, it is a more competitive environment. An even easier way to see how competition will play out is understand how simple and easy it is to switch from Google to one of our competitors, in particular, to switch from Yahoo and Microsoft, it’s literally one click away.

I'd question whether Microsoft is actually suffering. Schmidt was then asked if he regretted last year's partnership talks with Yahoo if only because it drew more attention from antitrust regulators. Again Microsoft came into play. 

Because with Microsoft’s dominance with respect to both the browser and the Windows platform they could really tie all that together in ways that were not even conceivable ten years ago in the antitrust settlement. So we have no regrets at all about that. 

Overall, it's an interesting dance Google is trying to do. For the most part, Google can dodge the antitrust bullets in the U.S. In the EU it may be a different story. We'll see.