Please Regulate My Rival – Redux

Oh the irony of today’s headline news about Microsoft filing an antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission. Clash of the titans! Microsoft’s troubles with the EC have been notorious for years. Now, virtually shut out of the search market – and in my opinion this has something to do with Bing being a truly inferior product – Redmond is turning to these powerful regulators of a huge market segment for help.

Google has become something of a monster in the eCommerce world – basically wanting to own everything, and getting away with a lot of it. A March 21 release from Universum (a consulting firm) showed that a full 25% of recent college grads want to work for Google.  People just like them – because it’s a young company, because Sergey Brin and Larry Page seem like regular guys who hit it big with a big idea, because their playful logo is everywhere cool (except Facebook)… Microsoft and Mr. Gates just don’t give out the same hip vibe – they are past their pinnacle. In fact, they are symbolic of a highly structured, often drudgerous work environment.

I can’t help but wonder if the coolness factor has subliminally played on regulators – or is the market just moving so fast that their legal heads are spinning? In its day, Microsoft tried to do much of the same as Google is doing – albeit with different technologies. Where the U.S. failed to act, the EC put its foot down. Stung, they are now turning the tables. In truth, they are probably right – Google has pushed its empire to the extreme, with no end in sight. In such circumstances, it is interesting to see how those who would otherwise uphold ‘free markets’ think regulation might not be such a bad thing afterall.  This is going to be something to watch!

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