Since the 1990s, Microsoft has been the world's legal bombing range. After Windows gained popularity and applications such as Internet Explorer were bundled with the operating system, government regulators, technology pundits and folks who closely follow the industry claimed Microsoft needed to be taken down before it was too late.
For years, the company battled it out to maintain its standing as a dominant player in the market. It was a long battle, but aside from some prolonged sniping with European Union regulators, the company is losing its hard-earned standing as the world's favorite judicial punching bag.
That title now belongs to Google. The Web giant has faced several legal challenges throughout the years. Some have even said the company needs to be stopped before it totally controls revenue generation on the Web. For a while, it seemed like Google didn't deserve to be the target of all those lawsuits. After all, Microsoft was the hated company and Google was beloved. Why would anyone pick on Google?
But in recent years, the legal issues the search giant has been forced to deal with have grown in seriousness and quantity. And although it has so far emerged largely unscathed, Google will continue to face legal issues both now and in the future. Here is how it happened.
1. Google's Web standing
If Google didn't control nearly 70 percent of all Web searches in the world, most regulators probably wouldn't pay much attention. But it does. Similar to Microsoft's dominance in the operating system market, Google's control over search is alarming. The company's slogan of never being evil is fine and all, but dominating the extremely profitable search market allows it control that most regulators don't like a company to have.
2. Microsoft's reduced dominance
Microsoft isn't the target that it once was. Make no mistake, Redmond is still extremely powerful in the business. But companies like Apple and especially Google have whittled away at Microsoft's share of the operating system, browser, mobile and Web markets. Microsoft isn't quite the dominant force in the industry that it once was. But that doesn't mean regulators aren't keeping an eye on Microsoft anymore. It might mean that after being burned multiple times, Microsoft is trying harder not to draw regulators' attention.
3. There is cause for concern
Although Google likes everyone to believe that it's always the innocent party and there is no reason to doubt its intentions, there just might be. Google has been embroiled in several privacy complaints over the years. The company has also been working its way into several industries, including building its own fiber network to compete with ISPs. Google isn't just a search company anymore and some folks are wondering how much further it can go without being held up.
4. The advertising business
At the recent Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, several carriers spoke out against Google's advertising practices. They complained that by not sharing advertising revenue the company generates from its mobile phones, it's leaving carriers out of the money-making process. That wasn't the first time Google has been targeted over its advertising. The company's DoubleClick acquisition was the subject of much debate. Small advertising networks are speaking out against Google's control over so many advertising dollars sweeping across the Web. It might not be long before Google's advertising intentions are called into question by the international community.