The antitrust case against Google

September 19, 2011: 7:38 AM ET

The Senate hearings scheduled for Wednesday will only scratch the surface

Source: Google

Apple (AAPL) is conspicuously absent from the witness list for Wednesday's hearing on "The Power of Google" before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Consumer Rights. Yelp! and Nextag will be represented, but Google (GOOG) has stepped on a lot more toes than theirs to maintain and extend its dominance of the Internet's sustaining source of revenue -- advertising dollars.

As Steve Lohr and Clair Miller's story Scrutinizing Google's Reign in Monday's New York Times points out, Google's share of search ad revenue is 75% in the U.S. and higher in Europe -- well within the definition of a monopoly.

Having the dominant share of a market -- or even a monopoly -- is not illegal. What is illegal is using that power to enter, dominate and destroy other businesses.

As Lohr and Miller make clear, there is a growing chorus of Google critics -- some of them familiar from the Microsoft (MSFT) antirust hearings -- who complain that the Google boys are doing just that. But few have banged this particular drum more loudly than Brian S Hall, writing in his Smartphone Wars blog.

Last month, after Google's chief legal officer  "whined like a bitch" because Apple and Microsoft had acquired patents for alleged "anticompetitive purposes, Hall fired off a blistering rant that enumerated 10 ways he believes Google had abused its monopoly power.

Hall's list would be a good place for the senators to start their questioning when Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt testifies on Wednesday.

I quote:

  • Yelp gets popular? Copy their info, shove Yelp to the bottom of the page and put Google Places and reviews at the top.
  • Groupon won't sell? Spend billions from other businesses to destroy them.
  • Twitter and Facebook innovate on search? Take their content, whine when they try and stop you then spend billions to prevent their growth and hopefully destroy them.
  • Apple working on a touchscreen smartphone? Spend billions from another business and copy everything you can, down to swipes and apps.
  • Need a smartphone operating system with Java. Take Java and use it for your own ends.
  • Need a location mapping technology and Skyhook won't sell? Spend billions from your monopoly profits and strongarm your partners and drive Skyhook out of business.
  • Buy up the big travel search sites.
  • Claim you are open source but share nothing related to what your business claims to be about -- search, and nothing related to how you make your money -- advertising
  • Claim you are open and standards based but control who gets access to your smartphone operating system
  • Like all rich monopolists, they spend millions hiring high priced lobbyists and public relations teams inside the Beltway -- for their direct benefit

Hall's post was entitled Google are pussies. You can read the rest of it here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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