Microsoft, the company stung a decade ago in the US by being branded a monopoly and then in Europe by having to pay and pay again for its past tactics, is arguing that regulators need to subject its foe Google to the same treatment.
At a recent meeting of financial analysts Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer characterized Google as a search “monopoly,” implying the company needed to be restrained by regulation. “They have this incredible, amazing, dare I say monopoly that we are the only person left on the planet trying to compete with,” Ballmer is quoted saying.
(Danny Sullivan offers an extensive discussion of Microsoft’s position and tactics over at SEL.)
The company has been directly lobbying European regulators as well as funding anti-Google lobbying through third party organizations such as FairSearch.org. While the US Federal Trade Commission declined to pursue a case against Google for its alleged “search bias,” the Europeans have accepted that argument and continue to pressure Google to make SERP concessions or face financial penalties.
Ballmer may yet get his wish if Google doesn’t satisfy the European Commission. While a settlement appeared imminent when it was first announced, it appears less likely today. It’s not clear what additional concessions Google will be able or willing to make that would also satisfy Microsoft and its allies.