Mr. Google Goes To Washington

from the and-sells-out dept

The recent antitrust spat between Google and Microsoft is just part of a broader strategy at Google to cozy up to Washington. Considering the fact that the tech industry hasn't typically had much lobbying clout, the move might be regarded as smart. But on the whole, this can't be regarded as a good development for the industry. Cato Institute director David Boaz has a good essay on how Google is getting sucked into what he calls the "parasite economy" (via Tech Liberaton Front). As he puts it, more of Google's talent and money is now being used to marshal support from Washington, rather than direct competition in the marketplace, which is a losing scenario for everyone (especially consumers) in the long term. You might think that pursuing antitrust issues is a corollary to the fight against the messed up patent system, which has the effect of creating monopolies. But it's just the opposite. Pursuing antitrust cases, like aggressively using patents, is a way of using the auspices of government to stave off the competition. As Google is clearly demonstrating, Microsoft can do very little to stop its advance, and thus its very success undermines any claims that it's up against unfair competition or needs government support.


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  1.  
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    Norman619, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:07am

    This is rediculous

    My god is Google in need of a swift kick in the nads. They should STFU and focus on creating a better search then the native Vista search. But no they'd rather try to get MS to water down theirs to make teh existing subpar Google offering look better. I think I am now on my way to look for an alternative searcg engine. Google has become too much of a bitch for me to stomach.

     

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  2.  
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    Fred Flint, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:17am

    The Rise of Another Evil Empire

    Already I stopped using Google for anything anymore. There are other, less evil options available.

    Google still 'pretends' not to be evil but I don't think they're going to be able to do that much longer.

    Anyone and anything operating in Washington is evil by nature.

     

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  3.  
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    Green Machine, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:20am

    Too big?

    Has Google become so big that Microsoft actually seems like a sympathetic character in comparison?

    Like it or not, a DC presence is necessary. They have 12 people here. And almost everyone they've hired is a DC lifer. I think they are a long way off from sapping their creative energy by putting too much talent and money into Washington. Right now, they've got plenty of both to spare.

    That being said, I agree with the general TechDirt theme that too much focus on lobbying and litigation instead of innovation is a bad long-term business strategy. But, as Microsoft proved, so is avoiding Washington altogether.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:32am

    Wasn't the point of this whole situation that Microsoft had done something within the OS that degraded the quality of third party search products and made it very difficult to use them. In what way is Google supposed to deal with that issue "in the marketplace?" The very notion that a company should attempt to compete without government assistance in a monopolized market completely misses the concept at hand. Microsoft cannot be allowed to abuse their 90% OS market share because THAT does hurt consumers directly.

    When Microsoft leverages their dominant position in the OS market to achieve dominance in another market that's a blatant abuse of their monopoly position. The post misses the point that free market thinking only works in a situation in which there is a free market to begin with. What we are talking about here is the "Windows Market." Microsoft has that on lock down because without government regulation Microsoft sets the rules for who and what runs how well on their proprietary OS.

    With Microsoft's new policy of using product pricing as a means of providing enhanced malware security for their OS I would be far more concerned about a lack of regulation. What comes next? Developers "paying" to run signed code on Windows? What Google is doing is about the only way they can get a foot in the door so that they have an opportunity to compete. Is the situation unfortunate? Yes. Should Google be blamed for it? No.

    Don't be an idiot.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:43am

    comment #3

    Comment #3's first 2 paragraphs are exactly right.

    I have no knowledge on the comments in the 3rd - so no comment from me.

    Please people - try to avoid knee jerk reactions. Think things through. The world is not a black and white place. There are infinite shades and colors to every question.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 9:57am

    Google is getting complacent

    Why should microsoft have to change their product to make it easier for a competitor? By building a desktop search into their OS they are trying to make it a better product and compete with other OS's such as Mac OSX which have integrated desktop search features. Just because google created a third-party desktop search feature first doesn't mean they should have a monopoly on this feature and Microsoft should be unable to better their own product. If you look at the comments from Google they still aren't happy with the concessions that Microsoft is making, which are to make changing to a third-party desktop search easier. Why can't google innovate by making it easier to switch to google desktop themselves? They already have many free software providers questionably bundling thier desktop search in with other products, forcing you to uncheck a box during installation to prevent automatic installation of google desktop. Can't they engineer a way to have this installation replace the vista desktop search? Sounds to me like they find it easier to make Microsoft do all the work.

     

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  7.  
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    Joe Jusetsen, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 10:06am

    The tech bone yard is littered with the broken bodies of companies that tried to compete with MS via superior technology and waited until they suffered huge market losses before trying to get government help for MS's illegal activity. Do you wait for the bully to beat you to a pulp before yelling for help?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 10:24am

    It's ridiculous that the government should even have the power to force another company to amend its products so that a competitor of lesser value can leech onto its products. I would like to see evidence of microsoft's "illegal activities"

    Also, Joe Weisenthal, good job on the article. I like your objective viewpoint.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 10:45am

    Google Rocks

    I like teh Google.

    Google Roxors

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Google is getting complacent

    Google isn't asking M$ to make it easier for them, Google is trying to get M$ to remove obstructions (it intentionally put in to slow competitors down).

    and while you ask questions about innovating: Why can't M$ innovate instead of abusing their (factual) monopoly left and right and trying to obstruct everyone else?

    Why don't you inform yourself about a subject before you feel you're entitled to waste everyone's time with your useless opinion (and your opinion is useless, not because it is different from mine, but because it clearly is not based on (all) the facts/articles)

     

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  11.  
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    SailorRipley, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    well, as soon as M$ makes their source code public we can all see and...oh, wait a minute...

    Although I am a big fan of the general principal of innocent until proven guilty (in a court of law), when you play dirty all the time, you're not getting the benefit of doubt every subsequent time something smells fishy.

    (Moreover, even without Microsoft's track record: the source code is proprietary, it's illegal for people to reverse engineer it, so how would anybody find out you did something naughty? very tempting to say the least)

    And I love how the M$ defenders keep insisting M$ is getting forced to amend its product to make things easier for a competitor...(do you guys just not read, or choose to conveniently ignore whatever conflicts with your pro-M$ views?)

    from the NY Times article: The changes to Vista would allow consumers to decide which desktop search program they want to use, and selection of the software from Google or some other company would no longer slow down the computer as it does now. (emphasis mine)

    anybody who gets "forced to make it easier for competitors" from "no longer slow down" is either retarded of shilling...

     

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  12.  
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    darkbhudda, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 8:22pm

    Google desktop was slow on Windows XP. Vista's search engine is far superior. Get over it Google.

     

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  13.  
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    perry, Jun 22nd, 2007 @ 8:40am

    Just my opinion...

    actually..i think it is quit silly.

    ..some of you say that they should focus on real-time products. When in fact lobbying will help them get bills sumbitted and passed in the house. These bills can be anything from the legailty of censorship in china, which could pose a great revenue issue if they are forced to part with certian rights or certian regions. Some bills could even be passed to give technology companies a tax break (like we do big oil compaines) so they can better diversify their research dollars, which will make new and current products better, easier to use and more durable.

    ..by the way i thought there was a seperation of search and state anyway(laff). i dont understand why google is beging made to fight a fight that the american government is not even addressing!! I always thought it was the people who raise their voice or raise thier guns..the ones who change in this country. So why start asking corporations to do that now?! I mean i understand the concept of if china loses money from google pulling out they will obvisouly give more rights to their citzens, but this is not iron clad. What could happen is the chinnese government could kick google out. They have their on search and im sure they have disected googles over the years. So who would this hurt? Google, investors and consumers, who would much rather governments and citizens fight commies and let the corp's stick to making our products better!

     

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