The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into whether to launch a broad antitrust query regarding Google's search engine business.
European Commission has scrutinized
Google's search engine business for anticompetitive practices since last
November, U.S. regulators have watched from a distance.
appears the U.S. is getting ready to make its own play to hound Google.
two anonymous sources claiming the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is mulling a
broad antitrust investigation of Google's search business.
publication noted that the FTC is waiting to see whether its colleagues at the
U.S. Department of Justice clear or challenge Google's bid to buy ITA Software
for $700 million.
The DOJ is investigating
whether the deal would help or harm competition in the market for airline fare
and schedule search.
The DOJ and
FTC split duties on antitrust oversight, based on each antitrust committee
members' expertise. On that score, the FTC defers to the DOJ in competition
matters concerning the travel sector.
Google's acquisition of mobile-ad provider AdMob, seeking the counsel of
mobile-ad providers and industry analysts before blessing the deal last May.
The FTC did
not return eWEEK's call seeking comment.
the DOJ's finding in the ITA deal might determine whether the two agencies
would compete for control of a broader probe of Google.
The FTC, given
of Google's mobile-search and ad business, could well
choose to dig deeper into Google's current desktop-search hegemony.
currently commands 65 percent of the U.S. search market, but the company is
never slow to point out that it is easy for users to select another search
engine. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK April 5:
competition is one click away on the Internet, we work hard to put our users'
interests first and give them the best, most relevant answers to their queries-whether
it's a Web page, news article, image or map. We built Google for users, not Websites,
and serving our users is our No. 1 goal."
the whiff of an antitrust inquiry stateside knocked Google shares down nearly 3
percent, to $571 on Tuesday, the day after Google co-founder Larry Page re-assumed
the CEO role from the man he gave it to in 2001, Eric Schmidt.
It will be
interesting to see whether regulators move more aggressively against Google now
that a leader with less patience for being politic runs the company.
investigation would run in parallel with the one in Europe, where vertical
search engines and Microsoft accused Google of demoting their Websites in favor
of its own services.
state Attorney General Gregg Abbott is looking
Google's search and search-ad practices. Ohio AG Mike DeWine is also
considering a closer look.