Microsoft and Google have never been BFFs. That's putting it mildly. Longtime Microsoft executives I've spoken with hate how Google goes around with a Don't Be Evil veil even as it stands accused of many of the same things Microsoft itself was vilified for a decade ago-namely shutting out competitors from key markets. Of course, none of this has been proven in any court, so it's just hearsay from Microsoft, which was convicted of building a desktop monopoly. These companies chiefly compete in search and ads, cloud computing, desktop computing and online collaboration. Google hopes to be able to compete with Chrome OS, but that is a long shot given Windows entrenched market position.
Google hates Facebook for poaching its top talent, but Facebook is sick of Google ruling the Web with search. So it's opting to rule the Web in social. This competition is sometimes friendly and often not, such as when each company accuses the other of messing with user data. Google forged the Data Liberation Front to let users shuttle data in and out of Google online applications. Facebook uses this data portability tool to rip Gmail contacts from Google without its permission.
How can they be lovers if they can't be friends? Google and Apple were once BFFs. The Google, whose longtime CEO Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board, launched Android and Apple CEO Steve Jobs became convinced Schmidt betrayed him. Apple then began suing Android OEMs Samsung, Motorola and HTC to get back at Google.
While Apple is suing Android OEMS, it's Oracle that is directly suing Google over Android. This case is very serious for Google, which if it loses could owe Oracle billions of dollars and possibly even be enjoined from offering Android without making core adjustments.
While we're on the Android suit kick, location database power Skyhook alleged Google infringed on its patents and stole valuable business from Motorola and Samsung by coercing those companies to use Google's location database technology. This smacks of ruthless, Art of War style competition, Skyhook contends. And Google may well pay the price if it is found to be culpable in this litigation.
Google reportedly tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion last fall. When Groupon said no thanks, Google built Google Offers, a local deals service to challenge the local deal king.
Yes, PayPal. Google was preparing to partner with PayPal to make it the provider for its mobile payments. Instead, PayPal alleged in a lawsuit, Google hired away top PayPal mobile payment executives and has used them to build its rival Google Wallet mobile payment service.
Of all these companies, where does Yelp fit in? Google was indexing Yelp, CitySearch and other local business review sites in its search results, but then launched a competing Google Places service last fall. Yelp and CitySearch protested, Google argued back and now Google merely points to these Websites, favoring its own Hotpot recommendations.
Yelp and CitySearch are both two of a litany of search startups gunning for Google. Foundem, eJustice.fr and Microsoft's Cia product search spurred the European Commission to investigate Google for antitrust practices in Europe. The Commission may not take kindly to Google's machinations online.
Federal Trade Commission
The FTC watched the European Commission's work from afar and finally decided to throw its hat into the ring and search for evidence that Google is behaving in anti-competitive fashion in search. The FTC has contacted search startups and is speaking with Microsoft and several others to understand how Google's massive search ad business is impacting the Internet market. Google's defense is that it doesn't lock in users. Some lawyers agree, but that hasn't stopped other business rivals from painting Google as the Microsoft of the Web era.