Thursday, June 30, 2011

First IBM, then Microsoft, now Google

It's not easy being a dominant firm in a winner-take-all market.  WSJ reported last week that the Federal Trade Commission is going to launch an investigation of Google for antitrust violations in the market for web-based advertising.  As MBA 505 veterans know, being a monopoly is in and of itself not a violation.  The FTC would need to prove that Google obtained and maintained the monopoly through unfair business practices.  Getting a monopoly simply because you have the best product, best service and lowest prices is no crime.  Google handles about 2/3 of all internet searches, which is well below the dominance that IBM had in mainframes and Microsoft had in PC operating systems. 

A few predictable consequences:
  • this will take 10 years to resolve
  • by then commerce will have changed so radically that there is a good chance that current forms of web-based advertising will no longer exist
  • job stimulus for antitrust experts on both sides of the case
  • the European Commission will chime in with its own set of issues
  • Google will still be the dream employer for the best and brightest of today's graduates
  • Look out Facebook; now that MySpace has tanked, they're coming for you next!

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