Antitrust authorities in the U.S. and Europe are taking a closer look at Google
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is gathering additional information in its review of Google's planned acquisition of AdMob, a leading mobile advertising company that would help Google extend its desktop dominance to mobile devices.
In Europe, where Google's 90%+ search market share in countries such as France and Germany makes its U.S. share seem unremarkable, antitrust authorities are looking at the fairness of its search result rankings following complaints from local Internet competitors. Interestingly, one of the complaints is from a subsidiary of Microsoft
These two examples are not the first time Google has raised the eyebrows of authorities. Just last year, antitrust officials thought shared board members made Google and Apple's
While it's too early to know what will result from the latest scrutiny -- other than a big legal bill -- they are bad news for Google. The investigations may push the company into defense mode as growth in its core business slows. Google needs to stake claim to faster growing markets.
Antitrust regulators have a history of conducting prolonged investigations in the technology industry. Microsoft, IBM
During a lengthy investigation, it's easy to imagine a company competing a bit more tentatively, concerned at how an aggressive deal or expansion might look to antitrust authorities. Microsoft, IBM, and Intel have all continued to thrive despite their experiences, but it's hard not to wonder "what if." If Microsoft hadn't spent much of the 1990s under investigation, would it, rather than Google, dominate search? Might Microsoft now have 90% market share in mobile operating systems? As a Google shareholder, I fear similar questions may be asked about the company in a decade.