By Ken Fisher | Published: February 03, 2008 – 02:31PM CT
How does Google feel about all this? Moments ago, Google’s top counsel, senior vice president David Drummond posted Google’s first official response to the proposed deal, and it has some bite. Drummond asks some questions that are clearly meant to sketch out a dark future should a deal go through:
“Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies—and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets,” he writes.
It isn’t an understatement to say that Google apparently opposes this deal. Going for the jugular, Google’s Drummond instantly suggests that the Redmond giant could (would?) use unsavory tactics for unfair advantage, ultimately harming the Internet and the very open and innovative environment that’s driving it.
Yet Drummond doesn’t explain just how Microsoft could accomplish this. While we all know that Microsoft utilized special OEM pricing deals for Windows to influence those very same OEMs, for instance, it remains unclear on what basis Google sees this threat taking shape online. Where is their new leverage stemming from in this deal?
Drummond goes on to worry about specific threats, asking if a Microsoft-Yahoo marriage could result in Microsoft extending “unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet” or if the combination of two webmail and IM giants is unhealthy.
“Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ e-mail, IM, and web-based services?,” Drummond asks. “Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions—and consumers deserve satisfying answers.”
Google is right to raise these issues, but beginning the discussion with a veiled accusation that Microsoft could unfairly limit the abilities of users to use competing services is a bit strong in the absence of any illustration as to how Microsoft could accomplish this. It’s no small feat to hijack the Internet, e-mail and IM, yet Google’s Drummond seems to be suggesting that when we think about Microsoft-Yahoo, that’s what we ought to be thinking about.
Is this a reasonable response, or fear mongering? It strikes me as more of the latter, to be honest.