US-based Consumer Watchdog is calling on the European Commission (EC) to block Google’s $12.5 billion takeover of Motorola Mobility and wants Europe to pursue a formal antitrust complaint against Google. Citing marketshare data, the group’s argument is that owning a handset maker would turn Google into an “unstoppable juggernaut” in mobile:
Google’s Android smartphone operating system dominates the mobile market with a 38 percent share and is growing. Apple’s iPhone has 27 percent. Google controls 95 percent of the mobile search market. There is evidence it is pressuring handset manufacturers to favor Google applications when using the Android operating system. Google’s earlier acquisition of AdMob gave the Internet Giant dominance in mobile ad sales. Allowing the Motorola Mobility deal would provide Google with unprecedented dominance in virtually all aspects of the mobile world – manufacturing, operating systems, search and advertising. It would be a virtually unstoppable juggernaut.
The European Commission is widely expected to approve the Motorola deal next month, however. It is also expected to decide on whether to pursue a formal antitrust case against Google the following month, in March.
It would be curious if the EC allowed the Motorola acquisition and then turned around and filed the antitrust case. But that could happen, with the antitrust action focused more narrowly on the PC search market.
Separately a French shopping site called Twenga filed the latest antitrust claim in Europe against Google. The essence of the complaint is now familiar: Google favors its own properties at the expense of competitors. That brings the total number of antitrust claims against Google in Europe to 11 I believe — I’ve literally lost count.
The US group, Consumer Watchdog, has been frequently tied to Microsoft and accused of being its puppet in an ongoing anti-Google campaign. Nearly every article mentioning Consumer Watchdog connects it with Redmond. However the group claims it has no formal relationship with Microsoft.
Consumer Watchdog is also calling on Europe to impose severe remedies on Google for its alleged antitrust violations — including breaking up the company:
- Google could be broken into different companies devoted to different lines of business so there is no incentive to unfairly use search to promote other services . . .
- Google’s search engine’s importance as a gateway to cyberspace requires a maximum degree of openness and transparency. Google’s monopoly position and importance to the Internet means that the company should be closely regulated. Regulations could be designed to open up Google’s ad platform to enable other competitors to compete . . .
- Another remedy could be to force Google to disgorge its monopolistic gains through the imposition of financial penalties . . .
As I’ve argued before, European regulators face a dilemma. They don’t want to get involved in regulating the SERP but they probably won’t simply walk away from all the European-company complaints that have been filed against Google. I’m guessing there will be some sort of action and remedy pursued against Mountain View but their scope and severity remain to be seen.
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