Microsoft to Google: Quit Whining Ya Big Baby
Microsoft may be quietly chuckling over the European Commission’s decision to look into antitrust complaints against Google, but it’s not going to take credit for it. In a post to the company Web site, Dave Heiner, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, took issue with Google’s suggestion last week that two companies with ties to Microsoft are driving this thing.
“This week came news that the European Commission is investigating various aspects of Google’s conduct, including claims of retaliation, exclusivity and manipulation of search results to disadvantage rivals,” Heiner wrote. “Google’s public response to this growing regulatory concern has been to point elsewhere–at Microsoft. Google is telling reporters that antitrust concerns about search are not real because some of the complaints come from one of its last remaining search competitors….[But] ultimately what’s important is not who is complaining, but whether or not the challenged practices are anticompetitive.”
A great point, and one that makes Google’s inflammatory out-of-the-gate finger-pointing earlier this week seem a bit hysterical. And if Microsoft’s European properties did spur the EC’s preliminary investigation into Google, so what? As Heiner wryly notes, “Complaints in competition law cases usually come from competitors”–“dumbass” here is, presumably, implied.
So does Microsoft (MSFT) feel Google (GOOG) is worthy of antitrust scrutiny? Well, what do you think?
“Both search and online advertising are increasingly controlled by a single firm, Google,” Heiner wrote. “…Microsoft would obviously be among the first to say that leading firms should not be punished for their success. Nor should firms be punished just because a particular business practice may harm a rival–competition on the merits can do that, too. That is a position that Microsoft has long espoused, and we’re sticking to it. Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content (like Google Books) and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly. Ultimately the competition law agencies will have to decide whether or not Google’s practices should be seen as illegal.”
Well, there you go. Obviously, the gloves are coming off here. Too bad for Google that it doesn’t take a punch very well.