Microsoft Turns The Tables, Challenges DoubleClick Purchase On Antitrust Grounds
Last year, Google tried to make the argument that Microsoft’s decision to connect the searchbar in IE7 to its own search engine was an antitrust violation and that it warranted review by the Justice Department. Not only was this argument specious, it seemed like a dangerous move for the company to make. After all, you’d think that a company with Google’s online dominance would be hesitant about strengthening antitrust regulations. Since then, there has been plenty of discussion about whether the DOJ might one day set its sights on Google, particularly as it expands the number of areas in which it competes. Now, in the wake of its announced acquisition of DoubleClick, a number of the company’s rivals, including Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T, are urging the government to closely examine the deal from an antitrust perspective. The main argument is that Google is already dominant in terms of online advertising, and that the addition of DoubleClick would give it a stranglehold on the industry. The argument mainly sounds like sour grapes from companies that are having a hard time competing. Although Google is paying a considerable amount for DoubleClick, it’s nowhere near as dominant as it used to be; with revenue around $300 million, it’s a tiny addition to Google’s more than $10 billion in revenue over the last year. More importantly, the internet advertising market looks extraordinarily healthy and competitive, as there’s a proliferation of startups in this space. Furthermore, as Paul Kedrosky points out, the DOJ was always going to look into this deal, no matter what, which underlines the idea that this complaint is mainly designed to take a cheap shot at Google rather than invite inquiry into a serious issue. However, regardless of the complaint’s merits, it’s clear that from now on Google can expect to get the Microsoft treatment (circa 1998) whenever it wants to make a major deal.