FTC Slaps Google’s Wrist, Microsoft Criticizes Ruling

The FTC announces the results of their investigation into Google

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handed a victory to Google by finding them not guilty of skewing search results towards their own sites.  In this matter, the FTC took no action on allegations that Google manipulated its search results.

The LA Times writes;

“Google acknowledges that its search algorithm isn’t exactly an honest broker, but it says other search sites play favorites in their results too. And if consumers don’t like that the results they get from a Google search, they can use a different site.”

On its public blog today Google stated,

“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its investigation into Google after an exhaustive 19-month review that covered millions of pages of documents and involved many hours of testimony. The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

In the second issue, the FTC issued a consent order barring Google from abusing the “standard essential” mobile-phone patents it acquired from Motorola. Google used its patents to routinely seek injunctions against other companies’ technologies in the smartphone space.

This one-sided ruling was disappointing to Microsoft, whose Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Dave Heiner, criticized the FTC for not addressing Google’s refusal to let Microsoft develop and offer a high-quality YouTube app for the Windows Phone. He claimed that the FTC ruling was weak and did not fully address Google’s monopolistic behavior.

Heiner said in his blog post;

The FTC took steps today to address some of Google’s improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC’s overall resolution of this matter is weak and—frankly—unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address.

As a sign of Google’s increased cockiness, to add insult to Microsoft’s injury, many users of Windows Phones report that they have been cut off from Google Maps.

Gogle claim that this occurred because Internet Explorer is “not optimized for Webkit browsers”, which is technically true, but does not explain why Google Maps worked prior to yesterday on Windows Phone.

It is clear that the bitterness between the companies continues as their struggle for the enterprise continues, but also that Google will continue to do as it sees fit regarding search and providing access to its data and applications to 3rd parties.

Unless of course, the EU, which is also currently investing antitrust issues at Google comes down with harsher enforcement actions. Most analysts and Microsoft, expect that to be the case, especially as lobbying money is not effective in the EU.

Google reportedly spent $14 million in Washington lobbying Congress on matters related to the antitrust probe and other issues, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and lobbying disclosure statements.

Microsoft will eagerly be awaiting the EU ruling, it seems. Share your thoughts on this combat between the giants in our discussion.

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