Plot to Kill Google Paints Company as Victim of Success First, Monopolist Second

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-01-20 Print this article Print

Wired has a well-researched piece on how Microsoft, AT&T, consumer rights groups and grandmothers (just kidding... Or am I?) are gunning for Google.

It's an exhausting four-page spread, which reads as epic online, but if you like stories that highlight sleazeball lobbying and pandering to win an argument, this is for you. Hint: There's lots of lawyering and legalese here.

First, the headline is overly dramatic. These entities knew they're not going to "kill" Google. Where would the majority of the world find answers to all of the world's information online? Certainly not Yahoo Search or Microsoft Live Search. But their collective efforts were meant to slow it down some.

So, how'd they do?

Google's search share continues to grow, sitting somewhere between 63 and 70-plus percent depending on what metrics you trust. However, what if Google had succeeded in partnering with Yahoo, an overture the article centers on as the main beachhead in the attack on the company?

That number could be more today. So I'll venture to say these efforts by Microsoft, et al., along with the lumbering economy, did slow Google down a beat.

Unfortunately for these erstwhile Google slayers, the piece does a greater job portraying Google more as a victim of its success than a giant corporation looking to take over the world.

In effect, it offers no proof of serious wrongdoing or lawbreaking by Google. Net-net, it's a lot of hearsay by politicking lawyers scared witless that Google will stomp out Microsoft in search and subvert AT&T and other carriers in wireless. Mmmmmm. My favorite dish.

Moreover, it also portrays Justice Department's Thomas Barnett as a power-hungry headhunter looking to make a name for himself as the guy who got to Google. The Wired piece noted of Barnett: "Staff," he proclaimed, "is irrelevant." He made the decisions around there." Oh, one of those guys.

And yet, amid all the witchhunting going on, the Wired guys use the comments from their subjects to highlight one widely believed idea repeatedly: that Google, by dint of its search share and growing Web influence, has become a monopolist. The Wired piece notes:

Sanford Litvack--a government lawyer who would have run the DOJ's suit against Google had it not withdrawn the Yahoo proposal--says that, in his opinion, Google's current position may already constitute a monopoly, even without Yahoo.

So why don't we see Google as evil as we saw Microsoft? Largely because people "choose" to use Google search. They're not forced into it. It's good and it works.

How can that be bad? Google search in itself isn't. It's how Google makes the money from search that increasingly scares us.

I've repeatedly said I'm all in for Google's Web services, including search, Gmail, Reader, and other Google Apps. I recognize the tradeoff of using those services and sacrificing some privacy.

How much will the rest of the world be able to accept that when the wolves beset Google's door this year, as the Wired piece suggests? I don't know, but I'd hate to have to move my Web content to another repository because a bunch of whiny politicians succeeded in suing Google into stasis.

That would suck more than anything that has sucked before. I just ask Google to keep clean until this mess can be sussed out. But maybe it's too late; once a monopolist in the court of public opinion, always a monopolist.

There's no going back, so it's what you do in the future that matters. |

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