The tables -- or in Microsoft's case, chairs -- can turn
quickly in the technology sector. It was just over a
decade ago that Microsoft found itself under close scrutiny for
monopolistic behavior with its Windows operating system and Internet Explorer
web browser. Now, the Redmond, Washington-based company is crying foul over
Google's dominance in the search market (among other areas).
Microsoft has filed
an official complaint with the European Commission against Google, saying
that the Mountain View, California-based internet giant is violating European
Brad Smith, Microsoft Senior VP and General Counsel, starts
off in a blog post praising Google for a decade of innovation in the
marketplace and its efforts to "organize the world's information",
but quickly moves in on what he feels are the company's moves to squash the
competition at every corner.
For starters, Google has roughly a 65 percent share of the
internet search market in the United States (Microsoft holds a 26
percent share in the U.S. when you account for Bing and its stake in
Yahoo's search engine). "At Microsoft we’ve shown that we’re prepared to
work hard and invest literally billions of dollars annually to offer Bing, a
search service that many now regard as the most innovative available,"
said Smith. "But, hard work and innovation need a fair and competitive
marketplace in which to thrive."
In Europe, however, Google's share is a whopping 95 percent
according to Smith. Google is accused of using this enviable position to corner
the European market with regards to search advertising.
understands as well as anyone that search engines depend upon the openness of
the Web in order to function properly, and it’s quick to complain when others
undermine this. Unfortunately, Google has engaged in a broadening pattern
of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide
search results to consumers and to attract advertisers
Smith even goes so far as to say that Google doesn't offer
competitors enough access to produce credible YouTube
clients for smartphones. Google of course provides a powerful YouTube
application with its Android
smartphone/tablet operating system, and Google's long-running deal with
Apple allows iOS devices like the iPhone
to contain highly functional versions of the YouTube application.
Microsoft complains about YouTube openness, stating:
Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this
YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a
result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser
displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on
competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube
app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the
way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.
Google's dominance in search and its unwillingness to share
the wealth when it comes to YouTube are just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft
has a long listen of grievances including Google's venture into the books
arena, restrictions on customer/advertiser data, content control, and unfair
advantages when it comes to advertisement positioning. You can read all of
Microsoft's complaints here.
"We readily appreciate that Google should continue to
have the freedom to innovate," Smith concludes. "But it
shouldn’t be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating
and offering competitive alternatives. That’s what it’s doing now.
And that’s what we hope European officials will assess and ultimately decide to