Why Google Is Vulnerable to Feds, Not Microsoft Bing

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-12-08 Print this article Print

Google bested Microsoft Bing in real-time search Dec. 7 with an integrated offering that sits in the middle of the search results page and serves users fresh Web content. Yet this innovation comes against Google's growing hunger in other areas of the Web that may make Google susceptible to federal scrutiny. Google is making a lot of enemies these days by entering markets and disrupting them. If Bing or any other search player is to make headway versus Google, it will have to keep innovating and hope that Google stumbles and finds itself in an antitrust nightmare worthy of, well, Microsoftian proportions.

News Analysis: Google trumped Microsoft Bing when it launched real-time search engine capabilities Dec. 7, but this innovation comes against Google's growing hunger in other areas of the Web that may make Google susceptible to federal scrutiny.

The software algorithms powering Google's real-time search required dozens of new technologies, according to Google Fellow Amit Singhal, who triumphantly demonstrated the capabilities in a launch event. It's no accident Google launched this at the Computer History Museum; Singhal and Google believe they made computing history.

Quite possibly, they did. Google's integrates news stories, blog posts and Twitter tweets in real time and serves them unobtrusively in the middle of the page. Bing only surfaces Twitter tweets on a separate site for indexing tweets, called Bing Twitter.

eWEEK believes Google's real-time play has a greater chance of succeeding because it keeps users within the core search experience. It's exactly this type of innovation that is making Google impervious to Microsoft's ambitious Bing search engine effort.

But while Google had met little resistance for its march on search - it commands 65 percent of the market in the United States and 70 percent abroad -- the company's unabashed hunger to extend its tendrils across the broader Web is only setting it up for further scrutiny by the U.S. government.

Google is making a lot of enemies these days by entering markets and disrupting them. GigaOm chronicled more than a dozen companies Google stands to impact with its recent moves.

In October, Google launched a free GPS system for its Android phones that could knock our GPS device providers such as Garmin or TomTom. Google doesn't actually make GPS devices, but by putting a free app in the phones, which can sit in a docking station in a motor vehicle, the company is obviating the need for GPS devices. That is a classic market disruption.

Google last week rolled out Google DNS, a free domain name system -- a kind of switchboard for the Internet -- as an alternative to paid services from OpenDNS, UltraDNS and Tucows. What does Google want with this kind of infrastructure? By making the Web faster, Google is ostensibly improving its search, enabling it to show more relevant results and therefore more relevant ads to users.

OpenDNS Founder David Ulevitch noted after Google launched DNS:

"It's not clear that Internet users really want Google to keep control over so much more of their Internet experience than they do already - from Chrome OS at the bottom of the stack to Google Search at the top, it is becoming an end-to-end infrastructure all run by Google, the largest advertising company in the world. I prefer a heterogeneous Internet with lots of parties collaborating to make this thing work as opposed to an Internet run by one big company."

But a heterogeneous Internet appears to be disappearing, eclipsed by Google's great shadow, even down to niche markets. For example, Google launched Sidewiki in September, which seemingly renders ReframeIt moot.

Why use a annotation plug-in from an unknown startup to share your thoughts when you can use one that boasts the broadest access to other Web users?

Google also recently quietly launched Google Dictionary, which could take searches (and therefore ad revenue) from Answers.com, Merriam & Webster and Dictionary.com.

With Google already offering Gmail, YouTube, translation tools and a host of other Web services, it is becoming the hub for users' Web surfing. With Google serving almost every computer user's online needs, Google is making its value proposition more about why shouldn't users use Google than why should they use Google.


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