Google Antitrust Probe Could Benefit Microsoft: Analysts
Should Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) find itself in the Federal Trade Commission s anti-competitive sights, there could be one very big beneficiary: Microsoft s Bing.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the FTC will soon subpoena Google for information, which in turn could lead into an antitrust inquiry into the search engine giant s search advertising practices. The FTC will also apparently send formal requests for information to companies that work with Google. (Neither Google nor the FTC provided comment to eWEEK on the matter.)
U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, also want Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to appear at their July hearing on the search industry. Google plans to send Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, who has testified before about Google s acquisitions and policies. But the two senators, in a June 10 letter, remained insistent that either Page or Schmidt appear to answer fundamental questions about business operations rather than merely legal matters.
That congressional drama is dovetailing neatly with the FTC s recent focus on Google s business practices, although The Wall Street Journal noted that any formal FTC investigation could take more than a year to unfold and result in no formal charges.
According to research firm comScore, Google held 65.5 percent of the search market through May, compared with Yahoo at 15.9 percent and Bing at 14.1 percent. Google continues to lure more than 1 billion unique visitors a month to its properties, versus Microsoft with 905 million.
But Microsoft has been notably aggressive of late in building out Bing s capabilities. Bing now presents Facebook information on the search-results page. Search for a particular city, for example, and the search engine will tell you which Facebook friends live there. Given Microsoft s minority stake in Facebook, this leveraging of the latter s data should come as no surprise; for its own part, Microsoft seems determined to graft a social layer into search as a means of differentiating its own offering from its Mountain View, Calif., rival.