Google's new antitrust problems

Intel (INTC) is likely to be facing an aggressive Federal Trade Commission investigation into its competitive practices after the E.U. hit it with a large fine for its behavior in Europe. But it is probably not the only U.S. company that should brace for new antitrust zeal out of the Obama Administration.

Google (GOOG) came within a few days of running into significant government concern about teaming up to sell search ads with Yahoo! (YHOO), the number two search company.

Fear of a government probe may have been the reason that Google backed off. It still remains by far the dominant business in search, with a U.S. market share that has been measured at as high as 70 percent.

According toThe New York Times, "Google's power is a cause of worry in many industries -- media, advertising, telecommunications and software."

One of the biggest problems with government agencies is that they often investigate corporate behavior for the sake of justifying their existences. It is probably hard to accuse Google of being dominant in any business other than search. Its efforts in other businesses have largely been failures, based on the revenue that they produce. In the search market they are up against Microsoft (MSFT), which has nearly unlimited access to money for engineers and marketing.

For the government to make an antitrust case against Google will be nearly impossible.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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