Photo: Salesforce via YouTube
Eric Schmidt came close to admitting that Google is a monopoly in his testimony before the U.S. Senate this afternoon.Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat who chairs a Senate antitrust panel, asked Schmidt:
But you do recognise that in the words that are used and antitrust kind of oversight, your market share constitutes monopoly, dominant — special power dominant for a monopoly firm. You recognise you’re in that area?
I would agree, sir, that we’re in that area….I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding of monopoly findings is this is a judicial process.
In other words, Schmidt agreed that Google has the kind of dominant market share that might subject it to monopoly rules. But until there’s a legal ruling actually SAYING that Google is a monopoly, it’s not.
Under U.S. law, there’s nothing necessarily illegal about having a monopoly.
But once a company is officially declared a monopoly, it’s subject to antitrust laws — for instance, it can’t use its monopoly to get leverage into a new business.
That was the big issue in the Microsoft antitrust case from a decade ago: whether Microsoft illegally used its Windows monopoly to crush the Web browser market. One judge agreed so strongly that he ordered Microsoft to be split in two, but an appeals court reversed that ruling and came down with some restrictions on how Microsoft could deal with PC makers and other partners.
Schmidt said earlier that Google has learned the lesson of Microsoft.
Update: We added Kohl’s and Schmidt’s precise statements.
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