If you’re not a fan of irony then you may want to skip this story as both parts are simply swimming in it! To start with Bill Gates’ brainchild Microsoft have in the past week (the same week in which Google +1 social search features were unveiled) taken another step towards out-and-out war with Google by filing a formal complaint to the European Commission for Competition claiming that the dominance of the company is restricting competition.
On the other side of the world Google is also in trouble this time in China as the authorities are investigating possible tax avoidance in three companies linked to Google Inc, two investigations which if they go against the search giant could leave them in very hot water.
Let’s start by looking at the Microsoft claim, one which is painfully ironic as it is Microsoft that have been at the receiving end of many European Competition Commission rulings in the last year (remember the web browsing incident?); although at least the company have admitted it saying that “Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly”.
Microsoft allege that over the last few years Google have been behind a “broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative” which they claim is bad in the US but even worse this side of the Atlantic where Google hold around 95% of the search market. They have said that they are being backed in the move by a whole range of consumers, publishers and advertisers and in fairness the list of accusations is relatively substantial:
“It is alleged that these anti-competitive practices include stopping its search engine, called Bing, from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from “operating properly” with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals.”
Google have responded by admitting no wrongdoing and have said that they will be happy to explain how their business works to the commission who in turn have recognised the complaint and will be taking it forward.
While back across the world to China and we see another step in yet another of Google’s long running feuds (they have never got on well with the Chinese authorities): the state run newspaper ‘Economic Daily’ claimed that two of Google’s units and a firm that worked closely with the search giant were guilty of tax violations in the form of presenting false and unjustified claims to the total value of 40m yuan although it went into no details as to the specifics of the affairs.
Google have unsurprisingly adamantly denied the claims saying that “We believe we are, and always have been, in full compliance with Chinese tax law” so we will have to wait and see what the conclusion is on the latest of a series of disputes between the company and China; it was in fact only in early March when they last clashed arms when Google stated that any problems people were experiencing in opening up emails was the fault of the communist governments blocks.
Well if nothing else it was an eventful week for Google and one that could ultimately end up in them having to fork out vast quantities of money, and it does go to show that if you start to get too big as a company you will more often than not be cast as the villain, and I imagine this isn’t the last that we will be hearing about Google and they over-dominance!