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Microsoft scorns FTC’s decision on Google

Accuses regulator of missing an opportunity
Fri Jan 04 2013, 10:35
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A DISAPPOINTED Microsoft has posted a lengthy complaint about the outcome of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust investigation of Google.

Obviously disgruntled, Microsoft VP and deputy general counsel Dave Heiner found something troubling about the investigation and the way US regulators did not seek industry counsel from Google's competitors and detractors.

"The FTC took steps today to address some of Google's improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC's overall resolution of this matter is weak and - frankly - unusual," he whinged.

"We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address."

According to the FTC, Google has been a strong competitor and has fought for market share at the expense of others. "Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers," it said.

However, Google has interpreted the outcome as a victory, saying, "The conclusion is clear: Google's services are good for users and good for competition." It is perhaps correct, because Microsoft certainly seems less than satisfied with the result.

Heiner expressed no confidence that Google will change its ways. "There appears to be no reason, despite the FTC's optimistic statements this morning, to believe that Google recognizes its responsibilities as an industry leader," he added.

"That is certainly consistent with the lack of change we continue to witness as we and so many others experience ongoing harm to competition in the marketplace."

The FTC fumbled its chance, according to Heiner, and he said that it should have tasked Google on why it allegedly will not let Microsoft offer a "high quality" Youtube app for Windows Phone, and whether it is right to allow it to have exclusive search and advertising contracts with websites.

However, there is some good news for Heiner and Microsoft, in that there is another ongoing investigation of Google and its practices. The company has its fingers crossed that the European Commission will go harder on its internet search and advertising rival.

"We remain hopeful that these agencies will stick to their established procedures, ensure transparency, and obtain the additional relief needed to address the serious competition law concerns that remain," he said. µ.


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