EC Shooting for Antitrust Trifecta–Microsoft, Intel, Google?
Christine Varney, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, famously referred to Microsoft’s monopoly as “so last century.” In her mind, it’s Google we need to watch out for. “[Microsoft is] not the problem,” Varney said. “I think we’re going to continue to see a problem, potentially, with Google.”
And apparently European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes agrees (though on Microsoft her opinion clearly diverges from Varney’s quite a bit). Sources tell the Financial Times that Kroes has been increasingly looking askance at Google and its efforts to rule the information economy. “Kroes has taken to pondering the anti-trust implications of Google’s dominance of the internet in a ‘thinking-out-loud’ kind of way,” the FT reports. “According to our source, the European anti-trust chief–who looks set to deliver a double-whammy to the old Wintel partnership with stinging fines this week and over the summer–has raised the question, unprompted, in at least one meeting with tech industry representatives.”
Now, as the FT notes, Kroes’s interest in Google (GOOG) is no indication that the EC is planning a review of the company and its business practices. Right now the agency has its hands full with Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC). It does, however, suggest that Google best keep its informal “don’t be evil” motto top of mind at home and abroad. Especially now that Microsoft is using Google’s dominant position in the search market as a defense in its own EC antitrust case.