Google may not find out its fate until January

Google Inc.'s (GOOG) former CEO Eric Schmidt expressed frustration in a recent issue about the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's antitrust probe into its mobile and search offerings.  He remarked, "It's time for them to sort of move to one resolution or another. It's not like they don't have a million documents and so forth. I remain optimistic."

It looks like that optimism might have been premature as Reuters reports that the probe's conclusion has been delayed and will likely take until January to wrap up.  The probe has been ongoing for more than two years.  The delay is painful to Google, who was hoping to find out one way or another what changes it might have to make.  FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz had previously stated that the probe would wrap up this week.

The company's rivals have complained in various FTC filings that Google downranks rivals to its services, such as travel or shopping, in its list of search results.  Other complaints also accuse Google of improperly "scraping" data of their websites -- the practice of using scripts to navigate webpages like a user and data mine values to enhance web results.  Scraping is a legal gray area; many argue it is legal, while others argue vigorously that it is an attempt to gain unauthorized access and essentially a computer crime.

The U.S. FTC has reportedly delayed its final ruling in its antitrust probe of Google.
[Image Source: TheNextWeb]

Google reportedly is offering to back off its patent lawsuits against rival Apple, Inc. (AAPL) (via subsidiary Motorola Mobility).  It also is reportedly offering to make other changes to the way it handles service searches.  However, it is reportedly very opposed to sharing intimate details of its core search algorithm with federal regulators or allowing them to modify it.

Overseas Joaquin Almunia, antitrust chief for the European Union has reportedly concluded the EU's antitrust probe of Google with a "last chance" offer to settle and make changes. If Google does not comply it could face a billion dollar or more fine, a fate other companies like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Intel Corp. (INTL) have recently experienced.

Google has set aside $500M USD to pay for potential antitrust fines in the U.S. or EU.

Source: Reuters

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