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MS Urges Antitrust Scuttling of DoubleClick Deal 234

Posted by kdawson
from the pot-and-kettle dept.
Microsoft contends that Google's $3.1 billion deal to buy DoubleClick would hurt competition in the online advertising market. And Microsoft expects AT&T, Yahoo, and other companies to join them next week in protesting the proposed sale.
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MS Urges Antitrust Scuttling of DoubleClick Deal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:40AM (#18748435)
    After all, it takes a convicted monopolist to spot another one in the making.
    • by catwh0re (540371) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:43AM (#18748463)
      Google buying double click is no worst than Microsoft buying it.. after all MSN & Messenger alone is an elaborate portal of advertising.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        MS certainly advertise on some of thier own sites and apps but i don't think they are in the advertising space resale buisness like google and doubleclick are.

        imho there is a major difference between being a producer of advertising space and a reseller of it just like there is between being a farmer and being a food wholesaler.
        • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:24AM (#18748641) Journal
          Actually, MS is in that space. The problem is that MS is not very sophisticated and they are WAY behind. They are hoping that by buying double click that they can compete head-on with google. Not sure that I really want Google to buy them, but I KNOW that MS buying them will be a far worse event.

          MS will have the ability to control it all via windows and MSIE (whereas Google does not have the ability to control except via natural). And while Google is tied in with firefox, MSIE still occupies 85% of the market. And with MS's past history, it should be obvious that they will tie all this together and kill off google. So what if they have to pay a later fine of 10-20 Billion? They will have created another monopolistic market that will earn them 2-10x that amount each year.
          • by init100 (915886) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:42AM (#18748727)

            They are hoping that by buying double click that they can compete head-on with google.

            So they want to stop Google from buying DoubleClick so that they could buy it themselves? Will they ensure that competition will remain vibrant if they buy it, or is competition just important when Microsoft is not involved?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Blakey Rat (99501)
            Ok, I like how this assumption exists that if Microsoft owned a sophisticated low-end to high-end advertising service, as Google now does with DoubleClick's acquisition, that Microsoft would immediately turn it into an abusive monopoly and Google won't. What's the difference between the two? Other than the standard "Slashdot hates Microsoft."

            If anything, Google will find it much easier to slip monopolistic abuses past regulators and customers because of the following reason:
            1) For the most part, their 'prod
            • Differences (Score:5, Insightful)

              by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Monday April 16, 2007 @09:06AM (#18749319) Homepage
              Microsoft would immediately turn it into an abusive monopoly and Google won't. What's the difference between the two?

              Microsoft is a convicted monopolist and serial abuser of said monopoly power with an operational philosophy/culture that encourages this. Google isn't.

              For the most part, their 'product' is invisible.

              Maybe to the average consumer. Not to those buying online advertising.

              While Google has many competitors in that marketplace, none of them get a lot of press. Or any press at all, aside from trade journals.

              It's because none of Google's competitors have managed to duplicate both sides of their business:

              (a) online advertising
              (b) interesting, useful, highly usable information technology services

              Google has good stuff on both sides of the equation. They sell ads on websites. They create websites that are premeire destinations on the web and sell ads on them. Nobody else really does both of them as well.

              There are many competitors that do online advertising pretty well. And those are invisible to Joe Consumer, but not to those buying online advertising (hence the trade journals).

              • by malsdavis (542216)

                Microsoft is a convicted monopolist and serial abuser of said monopoly power with an operational philosophy/culture that encourages this. Google isn't.

                With a highly over-inflated share price which they are yet to justify and a lucrative emerging market which they are set to dominate, Google is in an extremely similar position to Microsoft in the early/mid 80's just before they started all their monopolistic practises.

                Remember back then, Microsoft (kinda like Google now) were often seen as "the good guys", c

            • by visualight (468005) on Monday April 16, 2007 @10:11AM (#18749965) Homepage

              For the record, Microsoft doesn't really have anything to compete with Google in the advertising space right now.

              That's the best argument there is for not allowing MS to purchase Doubleclick. Microsofts can leverage it's monopoly on the desktop to then control the online advertising business and then have monopoly on that as well. The way they used the same monopoly to gain monopoly control of the browser market.

          • by powerlord (28156)

            Actually, MS is in that space. The problem is that MS is not very sophisticated and they are WAY behind. They are hoping that by buying double click that they can compete head-on with google. Not sure that I really want Google to buy them, but I KNOW that MS buying them will be a far worse event.


            This sounds like what a friend of mine who works in the industry also has been saying.
          • by LihTox (754597)

            MS will have the ability to control it all via windows and MSIE (whereas Google does not have the ability to control except via natural). And while Google is tied in with firefox, MSIE still occupies 85% of the market. And with MS's past history, it should be obvious that they will tie all this together and kill off google.

            Could you or someone explain just how Microsoft would go about doing that? I suppose Microsoft might start offering adspace on Windows or on their default browser pages, but they could

          • MS will have the ability to control it all via windows and MSIE (whereas Google does not have the ability to control except via natural).

            Wait a sec... if Microsoft buys DoubleClick, will the ads be changed so that I would have to use Internet Explorer to view them?

            If so, I change my mind: Microsoft CAN buy DoubleClick, please!
        • by Zerth (26112) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:18AM (#18748963)
          Yes, actually, they are in the ad business, and I say you can't be a trust in an industry where MS is a competitor:)

          They recently stopped using Yahoo's ad service and started their own. And it sucks.

          You'd think being johnny-come-lately that they'd, you know, copy the good features of the other big 2 and support things like being able to upload entire campaigns for large #'s of keywords and ads. Nope, the best they can do is single ad groups, one at a time, in two sheets, one for words and one for ads, which isn't really faster than cutting and pasting them into a web form.

          I recently had to change the text on several hundred ads and instead of merely importing a spreadsheet of the changes, perhaps generated for my by Google or Yahoo (which they do, despite the fact that it lets their customers try other ad sellers that support such a feature:) It took me about 10 minutes each on google and yahoo. I won't be done with MS adcenter for at least 2 days.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why not ask your power company? After all, they are the ultimate monopolists -- their market share is enforced by law.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:24AM (#18748645) Homepage

      It strikes me, however, that even if this would constitute some sort of monopoly, it doesn't touch Microsoft in terms of harm to the consumer. First, I'm still not sure how Google can really abuse the market, even if they do control a large portion of it. People will still be able to use different search engines and different ad services. Plus, if Google somehow ruins the online ad market, it harms... well.... the online ad market. Am I the only one who's not entirely scared by that? I guess I don't buy the idea that, absent of ads, people would simply stop putting content on the web.

      Maybe I'm screwy, but I care much more about the OS and Office Suite markets. I'm not expert enough to know whether they should take action to stop this deal with Doubleclick, but Microsoft appealing to anti-trust laws means they accept the validity of the principle.

      • "it harms... well.... the online ad market. Am I the only one who's not entirely scared by that?"

        Do you own a business? If so, a monopoly controller of online advertising could fsck you just like any other business-critical service/material you buy.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          None of this really matters if you block all of the ads anyway. Does anyone see an ad at the top of this page? I don't.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Locklin (1074657)
        Gooogle's customers are not web users. Thier customers are the purchasers of add space.

        If you are looking to purchase advertising space and there is only one main company you can go to on the internet to see large numbers of hits, then yes, they can abuse you royally.

        As much as I like to see Google do well, and detest MS buisiness strategy, I have to agree with them on this. They should not be allowed to develop a monopoly by purchasing major compeditors.
  • by lordsilence (682367) * on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:41AM (#18748443) Homepage
    one of the bidders for Doubleclick?

    Unhappy loser?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by clark0r (925569)
      Sounds like Microsoft have a conflict of interest here and shouldn't be shouting out-loud about this. It just makes it seem as though they want to manipulate the marketplace for their own good. If Microsoft had won the bid, you wouldn't hear them saying "perhaps we shouldn't do this, it makes the market unfair" and dropping their takeover.
      • by MoonFog (586818) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:48AM (#18748489)
        Let's be fair here, Google is substantially larger in the online ad area than Microsoft, so if Microsoft had won the bid Google would just be a bit smaller. Off course Microsoft wouldn't say "it's unfair", because it wouldn't have been. Now Google is more like the Microsoft of the online ads world. The irony is not lost, but you cannot just turn it around and say it would've been the same thing if MS had won the bid.
        • The real problem with that is that MS can control the market by tieing all this to MSIE (which they are trying to do via live). No doubt MS would be accused and later convicted of wiping out Google by doing this. They may even pay a 10-20 Billion fine. But once Google is gone, MS will OWN that market and will make 2-10x that each and every year. OTH, Google has NO ability to control the market save via a natural monopoly i.e. a superior product. But it would be better if MS, Yahoo, and Google were prevente
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by MoonFog (586818)
            A monopoly is still a monopoly, whether or not you choose to call it a "natural monopoly" or not. Would it really be better if Google wiped Yahoo, MS et al off the online ads map? MS could use IE to wipe Google off, but why is it better to have only Google than only Microsoft serving us online ads? You can say "yes, but MS would do this and that", which would probably turn out to be true, but we have to face the fact that it's hypocrisy to cry foul whenever MS does something and just say "phew, at least it'
            • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:20AM (#18748979)

              A monopoly is still a monopoly, whether or not you choose to call it a "natural monopoly" or not.
              Monopolies are not illegal. Abusing the powers being one gives you, is. MS has, I've yet to see Google do so. So while it doesn't matter what the type of monopoly is, it does matter who it is.

              Would it really be better if Google wiped Yahoo, MS et al off the online ads map?


              Having seen MS and Yahoo's business practices, in a word, YES.

              You can say "yes, but MS would do this and that", which would probably turn out to be true, but we have to face the fact that it's hypocrisy to cry foul whenever MS does something and just say "phew, at least it's not Microsoft" when Google does something almost just as bad.
              Name one company Google has snuffed out of business using their current position as dominate leader in the search engine business. Name one competitor they've screwed over by pulling dirty tricks like MS has. I've seen none of this, have you?

              Before Microsoft became the god of the OS world, they pulled every trick in the book to try to kill people in the markets they wanted to be in. They killed the DOS market by tying sales of Windows 3.1 to MSDOS. When that was blocked, they released Win95 under the lie that MSDOS was integrated into it and not actually a separate component (which was later proven a lie when people found out how to replace MSDOS with other versions.) Almost the same thing happened in the IE/Netscape war for dominance.

              And when Microsoft entered the system utilities world, they killed of their competitors by outright stealing. Can you honestly say you've seen something like the STAC/Doublespace issue pop up with Google?

              There is a very legitimate excuse to say "at least it's not Microsoft", whatever Google's 'evil' has been, it's been outside their business practices towards their competitors. Their mistakes have been working with people the Western world frowns upon. Not trying to channel the spirits of every robber baron that's ever lived. There is no reason to currently think they would turn into the next Microsoft.
              • by MoonFog (586818) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:30AM (#18749031)
                So your entire defense for Google is actually "it would've been much worse with Microsoft"? I'm fully aware of the history behind MS, and I don't dispute the fact that it would perhaps BE worse with MS getting the deal instead of Google, at least for now, but think about all the information Google has on you and think about them being in complete control over most information that flows over the net. I would rather have MS, Yahoo and Google compete in the ad arena instead of having a monopoly, even if that monopoly is Google. Having one company knowing that much about a person is somewhat scary, even if the company has a "Do no evil" motto.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Chyeld (713439)

                  Having one company knowing that much about a person is somewhat scary, even if the company has a "Do no evil" motto.

                  What Google has on me, it has legitimately through my consent. And contrary to your fears, they don't have "complete control over most the information that flows over the net". They don't have ANY control over what flows over the net. If there were two companies that could claim that it'd be MS and AT&T.

                  Fears over what is out there on you are pointless, not because what is out there isn't dangerous. But because Google is not alone in having it, and is far more responsible in handling what they have

                • by Rogerborg (306625)

                  Look, it's this simple:

                  Microsoft has been convicted of illegally leveraging a monopoly.

                  Google has not.

                  Now, which one would you rather own DoubleClick, and why?

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by jlarocco (851450)

                Monopolies are not illegal. Abusing the powers being one gives you, is. MS has, I've yet to see Google do so. So while it doesn't matter what the type of monopoly is, it does matter who it is.

                Just because it's not illegal doesn't mean it's a good thing. Illegal or not, monopolies are bad for consumers in almost every case.

                You can go on all day about the evils of Microsoft and Yahoo, and how superior Google is, but it doesn't make a Google monopoly any more desirable.

            • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:45AM (#18749149) Journal
              But it would be better if MS, Yahoo, and Google were prevented from buying DC.

              Google is a natural monopoly and has earned their position. Until they tie it to something or pull an illegal act, they should not be regulated (but should be watched to make sure that they do not do a MS). But it is in the consumer's best interest to not allow this.

              MS, OTH, has shown that they are an illegal monopolists (multiple times) and will obviously continue their actions. Always. Why? Because it is FAR cheaper to cheat and pay the trivial penalties that govs. apply, then it is to have to compete fairly. They should also be banned.
        • Just because Google is one of the larger companies in the ad-revenue business does not make them a monopoly in any way. There is alot of competition - one of them being Microsoft itself.

          This is just sour grapes from Microsoft side.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:42AM (#18748447)
    They must be throwing snowballs in Hell about now....
  • eBay & PayPal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's a pairing that could use some looking at before Google & Double Click.
  • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:45AM (#18748483) Journal
    No standard web pages containing all your search terms were found.

    Did you mean: MS Urges Scuttling of Antitrust
  • Hard to argue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:47AM (#18748487)
    It's hard to argue in support of this now. Overture or whatever Yahoo's advertising arm calls themselves these days is hardly a competitor, and even Microsoft have admitted their own advertising offering is stillborn at the moment. If Google does get hold of DoubleClick, it means they're literally the only game in town.

    When they can afford to lower costs for advertisers, having no competition means they don't have to bother. When they can afford to pay more to webmasters, no competition means they don't have to bother. Even a consumer can get screwed by this, since it'll be all but impossible to visit a site that isn't covered with DoogleClick ads, making 'voting with your feet' impossible. Very rarely does a corporate merger get to screw two sets of customers *and* the general public in one swoop.

    For those who say "But they did it with YouTube, so no problem, right?"... YouTube isn't really comparable, since there's a lot of other video sharing sites. YouTube was the biggest, but it's by no means unassailable and it's users arent waiting on a cheque.

    Regards,
    -Steve Gray
    -Cobalt Software
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      todo:

      Get myself an account otherwise people might start attributing things to me.

      Finish downloading that midget porn torrent.

      Regards,
      -Steve Gray
      -Cobalt Software
    • Re:Hard to argue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:56AM (#18748811)
      http://www.google.com/search?q=online%20advertisem ent [google.com]

      Hmm... Yeah, no competition. I'm going to say it. "But they did it with YouTube, so no problem, right?"

      YouTube IS comparable. DoubleClick is the biggest, just as YouTube was, and DC is NOT the only internet advertising out there. Here, lemme look through my adblock filters. These were all created BY ME, so they aren't just added randomly. I actually saw and was annoyed by these ad companies.

      qksrv.net
      atdmt.com
      bns1.net
      adquest.nl
      atwola.com
      tribalfusion.com
      burstnet.com
      falkag.net
      viewpoint.com
      imgehost.com
      interclick.com
      valueclick.com
      maxserving.com
      interpolis.com
      belnk.com
      zedo.com
      advertserve.com
      netshelter.net
      intellitxt.com
      contextweb.com

      So tell me again how there's no competition in this market?
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        Ouch, don't put all those domain names in one list all at once like that.
        Now I'll have nightmares of dancing Bonzi buddies again. :-(
      • by cvd6262 (180823)
        I teach college courses to preservice primary and secondary education teachers on how (if and when) to properly integrate technology into their teaching. One of the issues we cover is online safety, including user tracking by ad companies. I've found the following demonstration effective:

        With each teacher at a computer (we use laptops), walk them through how to view and clear the cookies in Firefox. With the cookies cleared, give them five or ten minutes to browse their favorite websites, check their email,
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      There are basically no barriers to entry in the online ad brokering business. "Want to trade linkz dood?" Is a request to show advertising in exchange for compensation. In terms of pricing, it doesn't matter much what Google charges because they have to be a better deal to control the market(because I can go ahead and spend some money on Overture to see how effective it is). There is some possible danger that they become so large that not being allowed to advertise on their network becomes harmful but this
  • by bmo (77928) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:48AM (#18748493)
    ...a justification of using the "sourgrapes" tag, this is it.

    I trust Google about as much as I trust any other corp (not much at all) but to see Microsoft crying in its oatmeal is just poetic.

    --
    BMO
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:57AM (#18748539) Homepage Journal
    Google is not an OSS company. Little of what they do has been released as free software. How much have they changed linux to optimise their operations? Who would benefit from the same patches? Nobody knows.

    Doubleclick was worth more to google because they could multiply it against the adsense data they already own. Microsoft didn't have as much to gain.

    Search is the new DNS. Anybody who owned and controlled all of DNS would control the internet. Most of the search market is controlled by google.

    Google is only limited in size by the fact that they are an internet company, and the internet is finite. But if they wind up owning much of the internet its not going to be good for the rest of us.

    I would love to be able to look forward 10 years and see exactly where this is heading. The don't be evil bit may just be ironic by then.
    • by asninn (1071320) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:47AM (#18748757)

      Most of the search market is controlled by google.

      Is it really? According to Alexa, the top three websites in the world are, in order, 1) Yahoo, 2) msn and 3) Google. Maybe all the people who visit the former two do so for the news, or the groups, or the mail, but I'm not sure your hypothesis is automatically valid. Google sure seems to be the search engine of choice among geeks, but what about Joe Random and Suzie Sixpack? I don't think you can just extrapolate without doing any actual research here.

      But if they wind up owning much of the internet its not going to be good for the rest of us.

      I would love to be able to look forward 10 years and see exactly where this is heading. The don't be evil bit may just be ironic by then.

      Wow, talk about ominous gloom-and-doom prophecies. I'd love to be able to look forward ten years to see where everything's heading, too, but neither of us can. I think the term "FUD" is quite appropriate here: what you're trying to create is fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the absence of any actual arguments.

      Oh yeah, and since I just read your comment again, let me give another example:

      How much have they changed linux to optimise their operations? Who would benefit from the same patches? Nobody knows.

      I'm sorry, but that's FUD, too, although some rather underhanded one. The reason is simple: while the question "how much have they changed Linux" is a valid one, your second question and the answer you give to that not only already implies that the answer to the first one is "a lot" but also implies that others would not only benefit from those alleged patches but also that Google is holding them back for the sole purpose of not contributing back to the community - being evil, in essence.

      And while Google's contributions to the kernel are indeed much smaller than those made by other companies, that's still just FUD until you actually come up with some solid evidence to back up your claims. But then, the fact that you don't actually go ahead and *openly* accuse Google of doing anything unethical is probably evidence that you do not, in fact, have any.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Wylfing (144940)

        According to Alexa, the top three websites in the world are, in order, 1) Yahoo, 2) msn and 3) Google.

        I thought it was well understood that MSN isn't being "visited" with intentional clicks. It just happens to be the default home page of 100 million people who don't know they can change it. If someone wrote a virus that changed everyone's IE home page to something other than MSN, it would fall out of the top 10 easily, and maybe off the charts altogether. I have never seen anyone try to go to MSN for any

      • You know, people always talk about MSN being one of the top web site in the world. I was given a bit of pause when I realized that IE's default start page is MSN, and that--at this university at least--very few people seem to bother changing it. I, for one, don't, and so every time I log into any public computer on campus and start up IE, it goes straight to msn.com. How many IE users out there in the world just don't bother to change their start page and just use whatever comes up by default?
        • by LihTox (754597)
          Isn't "google" one of the top searches on MSN's search engine? I've been told that many people type google into MSN's search box, and then do their searching from Google.
      • 1) Yahoo, 2) msn and 3) Google. Maybe all the people who visit the former two do so for the news, or the groups, or the mail, but I'm not sure your hypothesis is automatically valid.

        That's perfectly valid, and that's exactly what I do. I use Yahoo exclusively for mail, groups, news, etc.. and I use Google exclusively for search and maps and maybe a few other things.
    • LWN.net knows (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Craig Ringer (302899) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:56AM (#18748809) Homepage Journal

      Google submits a significant number of changes to the mainstream Linux tree, as shown by (among other things) this recent lwn.net article [lwn.net]. For 2.6.20 they landed up rougly between Intel and HP ... both of whom have much more reason to be working heavily on the kernel, especially on the server end of the market.

      Of course, there's no way of knowing if they maintain whole new optimised subarches, special file system drivers, etc in-house... but I suspect that anything they do keep private is mostly not released because it won't be very useful outside Google. Perhaps they're limiting access to things that'd only be useful to their direct competition in immense data warehouses - but y'know what, I don't care myself. I wouldn't be surprised if the kernel folks would reject any excessively specialised or over-complex changes anyway.

      That said, as you pointed out little of what they do is releases as OS. More than most companies (at some) - including some nice search and data handling tech and some handy libraries - but hardly the crown jewels. I for one do not find this overly troubling.

      I do, however, share your spine-crawling feelings with regards to the DoubleClick association. I've never been fond of DoubleClick at the best of times, and don't like the thought of their data being combined with Google's.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Craig Ringer (302899)
        I should however note that:

        - The LWN data is pretty limited (being based on line deltas / number of commits) and a single sample ... not really solid comparison material. Then again, I do cite it only as an example of a broader trend (Google being fairly active in kernel work).

        - My assumptions about what they keep private are exactly that, but based on the fact that they do release more tech than most, and that it's in their interests to get useful things that are
    • by nbritton (823086)

      Google is not an OSS company. Little of what they do has been released as free software. How much have they changed linux to optimise their operations? Who would benefit from the same patches? Nobody knows.

      Google is a marketing analytics company, they have no intention of pissing off their statistical sample space with obtrusive crap through doubleclick... Gmail, Froogle, Google News and Maps, Youtube, and Doubleclick are just a means to an end. If you still haven't figured it out I'll spell it out for yo

    • Whither Google? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gidds (56397)

      Search is the new DNS.

      Indeed. But I reckon that's a very mixed blessing for Google.

      Google's ability to rank the search results is based on links from other pages. Now, when the web was young and blue-eyed and men everywhere were free, they navigated using lists of bookmarks, and by following links. In many cases they published their lists of bookmarks on their web sites, so that others could discover interesting sites. This meant that most interesting sites had lots of links to them, which Google

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:15AM (#18748597) Homepage Journal
    Google is a publicly traded company and as such here's what's important to them.....

    Making money for their stockholders.

    There's a fluffy bunny love for Google that everyone has but they may as well change their motto from "Do no evil" to "We do less evil than everyone else". A monopolist Google is no better than Microsoft. I'm not a fan of Microsoft, but giving too much control to any company, much less a publicly traded one, is a horrific idea.

    Google is going to do what is best in their corporate interest.
    Surprised? Don't be. It's business
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:46AM (#18749161) Homepage Journal
      But it's not always right.

      We should be clear on one thing: There's nothing wrong with getting a monopoly by outcompeting or outsmarting others.

      What's bad is using your monopoly position to deny other vendors access to the market. This means not only refraining from things that only a monopolist can do, but refraining from doing things that have uniquely anticompetitive effects when done by a monopolist. The fundamental axiom is that competition is good.

      Google may be a monopolist as far as desktop search is concerned; if so it's probably the most unstable monopoly in history, thanks to net neutrality. We could all simply switch to yahoo tomorrow if we wanted to. The greatest danger relating to Google is in their service APIs, in which they could potentially induce developers to build applications on top of Google services, then crush the developers by the user of secret extensions. But they have shown no sign of doing that yet, because for the time being most of the innovation around Google APIs is coming from Google.

      As odd as it sounds, companies have character, like people have character. Some companies (e.g. Lotus) never seem to be able to come up with a decent user interface, whereas surely all they need to do is hire some HCI experts early in the development cycle. Microsoft got where it was by cunning and aggressive competition. Nobody begrudges the huge windfall they got by snookering IBM over PC-DOS. They saw the potential and were looking farther down the road than IBM. But when they used their power to punish distributors who distributed competitor's products, they were doing something illegal and they knew it. The temptation is stronger for them because of the company's aggressive, strategic character.

      Google is a company with a fundamentally different character. They are much more innovation driven than MS, which is much more focused on reacting to what the competition is doing. The only way to survive in a MS dominated marketplace is continual but disciplined innovation. The problem with companies that tried to compete with Microsoft is that they tried to compete with Microsoft. It's critical not just to think outside the box, but stay far from the box as possible, because MS owns the box.

      Microsoft has forced the industry into a post-postmodernist style of competition. The postmodern strategy exploits niches that are social constructs of the vendor community. The post-postmodern strategy is to fulfill customer needs more effectively. It's back to basics, with a twist; you still have to look at what the competition is doing, but instead of conforming to that, you have to harmonize but not conform. Google builds its services on top of standards, but it builds them with an unique Google style and feel.

      This switch in competition style is why we see so much more major vendor support for open source. Not that putting your thumb in the competition's eye isn't desirable anymore, but it's lower on the chain of values. In an industry dominated by one vendor, there can only be one winner at that game. So cooperation via open source becomes a possibility. Google is not a major player in open source, but the reason they often get lumped in with vendors who are is that they share common characteristics of having a longer term, customer centered strategy.
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:15AM (#18748599) Journal
    It didn't just blow up, it's a rapidly expanding cloud of plasma.

    -jcr

  • by Raindeer (104129) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:21AM (#18748627) Homepage Journal
    Interesting that AT&T joined in. They are moving against Google to support their Net Neutrality position. But let us look at how much money there really is in this market and then see whether an almighty Google might actually be able to hurt AT&T. Google currently makes 10 billion a year from 281 million broadband users worldwide. That's is $35/broadband user/year or $2.90 a month. Just look at the price of AT&T's offering and you can see that Google's ARPU is no more than a few percent of AT&T's ARPU (Average Return per User). Google's ARPU is supporting various content offers through this businessmodel, more than 40% of the ARPU flows to the content owner. So at the moment AT&T can beat up Google for a maximum of $2 per month per customer.

    So how big could Google's ARPU grow? In a country like The Netherlands 5.7 billion a year is spent on advertising to about 7 million households. This makes 67/household/month (and this number isn't growing too much) This is the total advertising expenditure on the national market and includes all major media: Newspapers, television, direct mail, cinema, magazines, billboards, internet etc etc etc. If Google can get part of that on a global scale, it amounts to a major amount of money. But now look at it from ARPU point of view. It would be hard for Google to get more then 10-15% of this market space ($6-$10/household/month) because they would have to replace all the existing ways of doing advertising and these are still powerful and sustain many content business models)

      If a telco can his hands on google's revenues, they might be able to knock a few dollars of the price of a broadband connection. But $6-$10 isn't going to pay for the line and the costly upgrades. Just go and look up the financial information of telco's to see how big they are and how much money they spend on a yearly basis. Google is dwarfed by that. (Broadband reports said that telco's would spend $41 billion on network upgrades just this year, Google made only $10 billion last year) Odlyzko was right when he said: "Content isn't King" and we can add to that "Advertising will never be king".

    So when AT&T says that Google is making money over their networks. We are talking about change compared to what AT&T is charging its customers.

    Will Google get a dominant position? Only if they offer content providers the most money for showing a banner and advertisers the greatest amount of clickthroughs. That is why Microsoft and Yahoo are loosing out. The offer less adviews per day, that generate less clickthroughs per thousand adviews and pay less per click and offer advertisers less conversions. Why would you use them? Nobody in the equation is getting better by using Microsoft and Yahoo not the content provider and not the advertiser.

    Now lets hope Google pays some attention to my pitch for Adsense for Charity [blogspot.com]. The idea is that anyone using Adsense can designate a percentage of their Adsense revenues for good causes or open source projects. Even if we are only talking about a very small percentage of Adsense users doing this, we still would be talking about millions of dollars per year) So please help out in spreading this idea, by linking to it or spreading it onwards.
  • true, true, but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vaith (875639)
    Setting aside the default "screw M$" spinal chord reaction, can't we concede that they do have a point here? The fact that they are guilty of being monopolists themselves doesn't mean they have nothing that's worth saying. Google's latest acquisitions have definitely set them on a monopolistic path as they expand ownership over content providers and now methods of advertising through those providers.

    Sure, Google conspiracy theories may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I think few people would disagree
    • by zappepcs (820751)

      Setting aside the default "screw M$" spinal chord reaction, can't we concede that they do have a point here? The fact that they are guilty of being monopolists themselves doesn't mean they have nothing that's worth saying. Google's latest acquisitions have definitely set them on a monopolistic path as they expand ownership over content providers and now methods of advertising through those providers.

      I think everyone forgets that MS bought Gator. Yep, that was some serious Internet business savvy.
      MS might well have something to say, but its real difficult for it to not sound like sour grapes. As for AT&T, hell, they are having enough trouble trying to kill Vonage and Skype. Killing off Google is a bit out of their league right now.

      Sure, Google conspiracy theories may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I think few people would disagree that an internet largely dominated by Google and Google-backed products, generating more Google revenue (positive feedback, anyone?) would entail the typical monopoly shortcomings (less innovation once the market is consolidated, arbitrariness, a bigger buffer zone for failed services, etc.). Right now I can't help but feel that Google is almost administering a utility, like water or electricity. Half of what I do online is powered (or directly coded) by Google -- ensuring a major share of the advertising revenue wouldn't be so different to ensuring they get most of their rightful toll/tax money for providing those basic services. Sure, there's nothing wrong with these services so far, but do we really want one guy centralizing all the cool net stuff? I for one, have to hand this one to our traditional Microsoft overlords.

      There is one simple reason that Google is becoming dominant: They build good products. They apparently are so good, you use them all the time. Google took the incredible

  • wasn't Microsoft in the bidding for DoubleClick as well?
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:38AM (#18748717)
    From the point of we normal mortal users, if Google gets hold of DoubleClick then (as we've seen historically with them) they'll keep to low key advertising that isn't in your face - unlike Microsoft who will no doubt use any means to ram Vista down our throats with Flash-based adverts.

    I do agree that Google isn't necessarily the "sweet-faced cherub" in all of this, but from my own personal perspective as a general computer geek who uses non-Microsoft products (Linux and Open Source) more than Microsoft ones, so far Google have given me free of charge a good search engine with minimal advertising, an email system with almost 3 GB of storage space that (unlike Hotmail) is pretty good at catching spam and doesn't keep emailing me with useless adverts, the very useful Google Earth tool and "Docs and Spreadsheets" which I have found very useful for collaboration and for converting Word docs (albeit simple ones) to PDF. Plus I've not even looked at all the other Google services that I could subscribe to.

    I do accept that MS does give quite a bit away to VB/DotNET/Whatever developers but for me, as an occasional coder in Perl, Python, shell scripts and a little C, there's nothing of any use to me that MS gives away.

    So from my own selfish viewpoint, I'd rather Google was left to get on with it and MS kept their hypocritical noses out of it - and if Google does ever start pulling their monopolistic weight, I'll worry about it then.

  • scary cookies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdrianZ (29135) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:39AM (#18748721) Homepage
    "Ad-serving networks like DoubleClick place tiny programs on personal computers, called cookies, that monitor where an individual user goes online."

    That's the scariest part of the article... that a publication like the NY Times still hasn't figured out what a cookie is, or worse, has but yet misrepresents it to scare people over to their POV.
  • Just wondering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt328 (916281) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:48AM (#18748763)
    Is there anyone here who actually allows content from *.doubleclick.* to their PCs?
    • True, I've had them filtered out at the firewall or hosts file level since 1997 or so. In fact now that I think about it, they might be the oldest entry in my current hosts file. I should send them a card!
  • by GreatDrok (684119) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:54AM (#18748791) Journal
    Am I the only one who was disappointed when Google beat MS to this? I was hoping that MS would buy them and then force all Windows users to view the ads and kill off things like adblock etc for the Windows platform. This would have been the single biggest win for the non-Windows community ever because it would drive everyone who currently blocks DoubleClick etc off the platform.

    Oh well, I can dream can't I?
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Am I the only one who was disappointed when Google beat MS to this?
      I'm not disappointed.

      I was hoping that MS would buy them and then force all Windows users to view the ads and kill off things like adblock etc for the Windows platform.
      I doubt Microsoft would do such a thing during this period of time.

      it would drive everyone who currently blocks DoubleClick etc off the platform.
      No it wouldn't.
    • Also it would have provided M$ a revenue stream to compensate their Vista losses and continue their campaign against the free world.
  • Microsoft complaining that another company will have a monopoly in an area, or Microsoft expecting AT&T to join in the party.

    I mean really, couldn't they at least rely on a more classy monopoly like DeBeers? Or am I missing it and they want their complaint to be made by companies that have been sanctioned themselves for violations of the anti-trust laws?
  • by ajs318 (655362)
    If Google buy up DoubleClick, eventually all the doubleclick URLs will change to google URLs. Then I will be able to take a line out of my Squid configuration file!

    acl adverts url_regex doubleclick
    acl adverts url_regex falkag
    acl adverts url_regex googlesyndication\.com
    acl adverts url_regex intellitxt
    ...
    http_access deny adverts
  • must... counter... irony... with...

    with... ... oh, hell, there IS no counter to irony.
  • Its crying time eh ?

    antitrust was not the littlest of concerns for microsoft while it was stamping on the competition back in 90s.

    see, that was what went around, but this, THIS is what comes around. (from scrubs)
  • by RepCentral (1059932) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:22AM (#18748987)
    I doubt that anyone can be a monopoly in advertising.
    Ads aren't like fuel oil, precious metals, telephone communication,
    business computers or operating systems. A customer's lack of choice
    in consuming advertisements means less sales for the advertiser.
    The advertiser would then be unwise to continue allocating money towards
    a loosing advertising channel and the problem would correct itself.

    It's hard enough to imagine a monopoly on search with 3 giant companies in
    the market but a monopoly on advertising is just a silly concept to me.

  • Ok I'll use this as my first karma burn. WTF! MS is whining because another company who's kicking their butt is trying to buy another company to make themselves better? Uhm, and how many companies has MS borged? *shakes head*
  • Microsoft expects AT&T, Yahoo, and other companies to join them

    Wait. That's Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo... one, two, three -- and others!

    Sounds like there's plenty of competition in this space.

  • by l3v1 (787564) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:03PM (#18754859)
    Microsoft contends...

    Geez, this is so freakin' stupid, I can smell it from the other side of the pond. It's a damn money game, if you want that dblclick so much, pay more, it's so easy ! Why come out in the light with "arguments" which smell so badly and rotten of piles of bullshit that it makes everyone and dog with at least as much brain as a chicken laugh out loud in pain ?

    Of course they don't like the idea of Google taking something away from their nose. Of course they would want a bigger part of the online ad cake. Of course they would do anything to stop Google becoming more powerful in the area. And yet, instead of paying the price, they start antitrust accusations ? Now come on, this behavior is downright ridiculous. And of course they would want yahoo and co. on their part in this case, despite them knowing all too well what would happen to them if MS put their hands on a pig part of the online ad business. Right ?

    It's easy to take away others' lunches while you're the big guy. Thing is, some things aren't meant to last forever. Go figure.
     

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