A pair of Microsoft-backed industry groups applauded the ultimatumEuropean Union antitrust regulators issued to rival Google overalleged anti-competitive practices. The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) on Monday calledthe EU's move "very impressive" and said action on the part ofBrussels regulators "will have a profoundly positive impact oninnovation," if they can persuade Google to change its behavior. Although the group counts more than 3,000 small- and mid-sized appdevelopment and IT firms, ACT is also backed by some of the biggestnames in the business, including Microsoft, Oracle, eBay and Intel. "It is better to outline concerns and give a company the abilityand flexibility to remedy them on their own before launching aformal statement of objections," wrote Jonathan Zuck, the presidentof the ACT, in a Monday blog . "We hope that Google takes the opportunity seriously to find effective solutions." Zuck was referring to the press release issued by the CompetitionCommission, the EU's antitrust agency, and the letter that JoaquinAlmunia, who heads the commission, sent to Eric Schmidt, executivechairman of Google. |
Almunia outlined four areas of concern , all having to do with search and online advertising, that thecommission wants addressed. He gave Google "a matter of weeks" tocome up with proposals of its own. Failing that, Almunia said, theEC would continue its investigation into possible anti-competitivepractices by Google, "including the possible sending of a Statementof Objections," a list of formal charges. ACT cast the battle as between Google and small companies, ratherthan between Microsoft and Google. "Because these issues impact small businesses the hardest, it iscritical that the EU takes decisive steps to address the Googleantitrust problem." Zuck said.
The group has been a prominent defender of Microsoft's interests inthe past as well. In 2004 and 2009, ACT argued in favor of Microsoft when the Redmond, Wash., company faced EU antitrustinvestigations. Also Monday, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace(ICOMP), another Microsoft-backed group, praised Almunia's standwhile pushing for what it called "stringent measures" against thesearch giant. "Google has a track record of frustrating official investigationsand many third parties have had unhappy experiences when enteringinto negotiations," said David Wood, counsel for ICOMP, in a statement Monday. Wood also read into Almunia's demands.
"[They imply] that thecommission has found that Google's behavior constituted an abuse ofits dominant position in the online search market," Wood stated. Among the original complainants who pleaded their cases before thecommission in 2010 -- which led to the still-ongoing investigation-- was U.K. price-comparison website Foundem, a member of ICOMP. In 2010, Google blamed Microsoft for sparking the probe.
Google on Monday said it disagreed with the commission'sconclusions but would be "happy to discuss any concerns they mighthave." Microsoft and Google remain locked in a battle for search engineshare, which the latter continues to win in the U.S. and worldwideby wide margins. According to Irish metrics company StatCounter,Google controlled an overwhelming 94.5% of Europe's search marketlast month. Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsersand general technology breaking news for Computerworld.
FollowGregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is . See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com . Read more about internet search in Computerworld's Internet Search Topic Center.
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