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I take it back. Europe isn't dumb. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is.
Yesterday, the search king petitioned the European Commission to join its antitrust case against Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and its Internet Explorer (IE) browser. The EU accuses Mr. Softy of stifling competition by tying the browser to its Windows operating system.
Google would be the third browser vendor to become a complainant, joining Norway's Opera Software and The Mozilla Foundation, creator of the white-hot Firefox browser. Internet Explorer dwarfs all three in terms of market share. According to researcher Net Applications, IE was responsible for 68.2% of web searches in December.
So, the filing makes sense, right? Wrong. As startling as that 68% share looks, it's down eight percentage points from the year prior. Competition is taking a toll.
But don't tell Google that. Company Vice President Sundar Pichai mostly toes the EU party line in a blog post. Quoting:
Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.
Specifically, IE's advantage is that it comes with your PC. Whether you buy from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , or Lenovo, your first browser will always be IE. Want a different one? Boot up Windows, open Internet Explorer, and go download one.
Yet, this is a very easy thing to do. That's why IE's search share fell from this December to last.
And even if you buy the argument that Microsoft is a browser bully, isn't Google crazy to be pointing fingers? Mozilla, yeah. But the Big G? The company that's being sued by TradeComet for (gasp!) antirust violations? I just don't get it.
If irony serves -- and it usually does -- Mr. Softy will soon declare its support for TradeComent. So will Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) . So will IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI ) Ask.com. Because Google is an advertising atlas, and it must be stopped.
Please drop this silliness, Google, before real investors get hurt.
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