Google seems to be getting quite a lot of heat these days and accusations from a broad range of entities about what many see as a monopolization. Not to mention the frequent challenges from privacy groups around the world who are enraged by some of the company’s newer technological advances and how they encroach on the privacy of citizens in various countries. Even the Department of Justice has gotten in on the flaming.
One well-known consumer advocacy organization called Consumer Watchdog has been expressing increasing concern over Google, and the conglomerate has been on their agenda for quite some time. They are planning to ask the Federal government to launch a deep investigation into the company and take a close look at what they view as breaches of antitrust laws.
In fact, as Google faces up to increasing attention in recent years, they are spending 1,500% more on lobbying every year than they were 5 years ago. This is a direct reflection of the opposition they face, and it goes to show that the challenge may only get more difficult.
They have also gotten a lot of attention with the fact CEO Eric Schmidt holds a position on the board of Apple, creating a situation that many say consists of a director holding position on firms that directly compete. Google doesn’t seem too concerned about all the attention, though this could certainly just be their public face.
The company claims that Schmidt takes no part in the dealings where both Google and Apple maintain more than a 2% interest; however, with the complicated integration of modern technologies and their dependence on each other, it is a long shot to imagine he is able to pull this off.
The Assistant Attorney General that takes care of the Antitrust Division, Christine A. Varney, seems to be quite concerned with Google as well, and she could certainly prove to be their greatest adversary in this issue. Varney maintains that she does not believe Google has aimed to acquire a monopoly but that it occurred in a natural manner. Still, her concern is that the situation creates limited competition and threatens the state of the current economy.
This inclination that Google holds a natural monopoly, meaning they acquired it simply by consumer choice and in no way by force and manipulation, is the main argument in Google’s favor. Supporters point out that regulating a company that claims market share simply because they provide the best products and services is simply damaging for the industry.
And they may have a point. Afterall, as Google points out, going to a competitor is as simple as the click of a mouse or typing yahoo.com in the URL box.
But these are certainly some issues that are worthy of raising some eyebrows, and raising eyebrows they are. Some very big eyerbrows. These antitrust and monopoly accusations will not be going away any time soon, and the course of this battle holds some interesting implications for other onine conglomerates and startups wondering what might be in the future for them.