Microsoft: "Google is anti-competitive"

Faith Merino · March 31, 2011 · Short URL:

Adds: "Stop laughing, we're serious."

In a supreme twist of irony today, Microsoft has filed a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the EC's ongoing antitrust investigation into Google. Microsoft's charges? Google is anti-competitive. Take a minute...

Microsoft SVP Brad Smith posted in a blog late Wednesday night that Google has taken many strategic steps to stay top dog in Europe, where it currently accounts for 95% of the search market, as opposed to the U.S., where it powers some 66% of searches, according to comScore. Smith lays out a long list of charges, which includes allegations that Google has intentionally blocked search competitors like Bing from being able to access and properly index YouTube videos, as well as charges that Google has blocked Windows Phones from being able to operate a satisfactory YouTube app. Currently, the YouTube app that Windows Phones run is little more than a link to a mobile Web browser, which takes users to the YouTube home page.

Additionally, Microsoft is charging that Google makes it extremely costly for advertisers to run ad campaigns on both Google and search competitors, such as Microsoft's AdCenter, thereby intentionally keeping competitors from being able to generate advertising revenue. And top cap things off, Microsoft contends that Google contractually prohibits leading websites from distributing competitors' search boxes, and since Google is the leading search engine in Europe, that makes it difficult for competitors to get a strong foothold in the market when every search box is powered by Google. 

Smith briefly mentions the original charges brought forth by Ciao (a subsidiary of Bing), British price comparison site Foundem, and French legal data search site eJustice, that Google intentionally manipulates its algorithm to give their sites a lower page rank since they provide competing search services. What they fail to address in their charges is the fact that their search services suck, which would explain why they have lower page ranks. Indeed, eJustice isn't even a legal site at all. The idea is you type a legal topic into the search box and it provides results on that specific topic, but it's little more than a hijacking of Google's search results. You can enter "itchy rash" into the search box and turn up a list of Google search results on itchy rashes. 

Smith skillfully sidesteps the glaring reality of those websites' suckitude to simply emphasize that Microsoft is concerned about Google's intentional manipulation of its algorithm to knock down competitors. 

But he couldn't gloss over the irony of Microsoft filing antitrust charges against anyone

"Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly," wrote Smith.  "This is the first time Microsoft Corporation has ever taken this step.  More so than most, we recognize the importance of ensuring that competition laws remain balanced and that technology innovation moves forward."

Google was not immediately available to comment, but the company's statement acknowledges the absurdity of the charges.

“We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants. For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to anyone how our business works."

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