When you are Microsoft, and you have really stuffed up in the search, content and mobile phone markets, how about trying to nobble Google using what Microsoft knows a lot about, “restrictive competition”.
Over the weekend Microsoft has upped the ante in its rivalry with Google, filing an antitrust complaint with the European Commission accusing Google of restricting competition in the search business.
It’s the first time Microsoft has filed a formal complaint with regulators. More often it’s been on the receiving end – the company has paid billions in fines and levies in a string of anti-competitive cases, including some in Europe.
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith claimed Google – among other things – restricts other search engines from properly cataloguing YouTube videos in search results, that it prevents those YouTube videos from running well on Windows phones, blocks access to book publishers’ content, and it restricts advertisers’ access to their own data.
In addition, Smith accused Google of contractually blocking “leading Web sites in Europe from distributing competing search boxes” and discriminating against competitors by raising the price for prominent placement in Google advertisements.
According to research firm Ovum this is a last ditch attempt for Microsoft to regain its struggling market share in Europe.
“So has Google been ‘skewing’ search results? I think the answer is ‘why wouldn’t you, given that 97 percent of your income is derived from Internet advertising?” says Davis. “And of course this raises the questions, ‘Don’t you do it too?’ and ‘Have you been copying your rival’s search results?’
“The total value of Internet advertising is huge, and this is a territory that both Google and Microsoft need to dominate. Irrespective of the eventual EC adjudication, this war will continue for a long time yet.”