Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has a set date with the Senate on Capitol Hill to discuss the search engine's expansive Internet market power.
Schmidt, who served as CEO of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) for a decade before co-founder Larry Page retook the reins in April, will testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C.
If the title of the hearing, "The Power of Google: Serving Customers or Threatening Competition?" is any indication, the meeting could make for some awkward and confusing moments.
Senate subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and his cohorts will apparently explore whether Google's rise to power online is good for consumers -- 1 billion-plus users Google serves in search -- or bad for Google's rivals.
The fact is that it's not an either/or proposition. What is good for consumers better search is bad for Google rivals such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and the litany of smaller companies -- Yelp, Citysearch, etc.
Generally speaking, when consumers find a Web service that works for them repeatedly, they tend to return to that source over and over. It's a positive reinforcement the Internet sector knows as customer engagement.
Google searchers tend to be happy with the results they receive the company has 65 percent of the U.S. search market and more abroad -- and so they keep going back to that well for information. This creates a maddening, unbreakable loop for Google's rivals.
The mechanics of the meeting between the Senate and Schmidt will be crucial for Google, which is defending itself both from a broad antitrust inquiry opened by the Federal Trade Commission and a similar investigation in Europe.
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