Google, do you know what happens if the government pursues you for anti-trust practices? Go ask Microsoft and think about where they were and were they are now. Yeah, it’s a solid kick in the nuts. According to the New York Times the FTC staff is going to recommend to the government that they sue Google. “The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page.” But it goes beyond just this and includes Android (read on). This doesn’t mean a lawsuit is imminent. The FTC has to vote on the recommendations and obviously Google will have time to settle before an action is commenced. But the FTC has stated that they will make a decision to legally pursue Google by the end of the year. The FTCs actions are on top of the EU’s regulators and six state attorney generals who are all investigating Google for similar claims. Here’s what the claim is all about:
The areas of inquiry include accusations of manipulating the search results it displays to favor Google commerce services it has developed like Google Shopping for buying goods and Google Places for advertising local restaurants and businesses. In the civilian subpoenas, the F.T.C. calls this “preferencing.”
The investigators are also looking into whether Google’s automated advertising marketplace, AdWords, discriminates against advertisers from competing online commerce services like comparison shopping sites and consumer review Web sites.
The government is also investigating Google’s practices in the smartphone industry, inquiring if its contracts with handset makers and carriers prevent them from removing or modifying Google products, like its Android operating system or Google search. In addition, it is looking into Google’s use of smartphone patents.
Read the Times article if this interests you because the story is actually pretty compelling. But in the end will there be a lawsuit? The consensus seems to be that a settlement is the most likely but it will alter how Google does business so expect this to be a story that has a lot of wings over the next year.