When Google announced the planned acquisition of Motorola Mobile investors weren’t exactly thrilled (see here here and here). Most of those investors are concerned over a lot of the issues i discussed in my last few posts (here and here), patents and potential issues with Android’s future. There are also discussions online about different types of antitrust and privacy probes that Google is being subjected to.
Some of these privacy probes are from the EU, such as the German probe into the Google Maps cars connecting to open networks and keeping records of these networks. Another recent issue comes from Google Ads itself. Where Google was advertising for illegal pharmacies. This one Google settled for $500 million, which may have been an effort to keep away antitrust investigators or at the very least prevent their attorneys from being distracted.
In the previous article it notes that European regulators are looking into Google’s ad practices to see if they are being anti-competitive. This could be a legitimate concern. Google has been purchasing a large number of ad related companies recently. However, in the long run I don’t think that purchasing of companies will make that much difference as it’s very easy to get into the internet ad game. New companies will be springing up on a routine basis.
I think that the EU will eventually look at Google in the same manner they looked at Microsoft in 2004. They were using an economic analysis tool called foreclosure. It’s a fairly simple manner of looking at markets and market share. Let’s say you have a monopoly in some market like desktop operating systems. You also know that the desktop market isn’t the only market out there, there’s another market related to servers. What are servers? Well they serve different functions but some of them are webservers, so when you go to a website that has some animation or data to be pulled there’s a webserver there that is connected to the website. This webserver pulls the required data to be displayed and in many cases actually creates the desired images. Other cases are for databases. The computer is extremely fast and can handle a massive amount of data processing at a time. Facebook for example uses a large number of them.
So, you already have control over the desktop market, and you want control over the server market. You can make it easier or harder for your desktop machines to connect to another machine. Basically you control the language in which that happens. You can make it easier for competing operating systems to decode your language. If you want to make it easy to connect a windows desktop to a linux server, you basically give the linux OS guys the lanugage and words to use to make the connection happen. If you don’t want them to connect you make it very difficult so they have to create their own rosetta stone to figure out how to connect to your machines. (I know this isn’t a very technical way to describe what’s going on here, but not everyone is computer literate that reads my blog)
Through this leveraging of your monopoly on desktop computers you can push your way into another market. In some ways Google is doing exactly this. In my next blog I’ll discuss a little bit more about what happened with Microsoft and how Google is attempting to foreclose on other markets using their search engine monopoly as a starting point.