Google, Inc. faces the real threat of an anti trust probe by the Federal Trade Commission, which is still pending, but likely to be launched soon according to reports, letting the company step into the shoes of software giant Microsoft in the 1990's.
Trust is something everybody should have in the results of a search run on the internet. But now of all things the largest search provider seems to have lost this trust latest with the ... authority of the United States, its biggest market.
On Thursday a newspaper reported, the FTC will issue subpoenas in a matter of days. This would be a sure sign for formal investigations to have started.
The Trade Commission will look into the Google's dominance in the online search market currently processing two thirds of all searches performed to favor the display of own services. If true and proven this would mean Google uses its monopoly in a market to move into and dominate other markets as well, which is not complying with federal law.
This anti-trust case would follow a similar investigation by the European Commission and the Texas attorney general. Another trial will probably provide for further unwelcome legal distraction.
Attorneys familiar with the case compare it to the 1998 civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Microsoft was accused to abuse its monopoly on intel-based PCs to manipulate operating system and web browser sales. That time software developers far too much depended on Microsoft operating systems and the company decided to bundle it with other software as their Internet Explorer thus moving into dominance in the new online navigation market.
Today Google Search became a tool for developers they do not want to miss implementing Google Custom Search in websites and software. As a result Google decides what can be found and how easily, say its rivals as Microsoft, complaining its shopping website Ciao does not come out well on Google searches, and others.
Independent voices say anti-trust probes like this do not help anything, but innovation and technology will win naturally. They might be right. But one thing it already achieved. The pending anti-trust procedures by the FTC showed clearly to everyone, who did not know yet: Google is one of the biggest out there, if not the biggest. Now it is not a secret big thing cast long shades.