Obama’s Antitrust Pick: Google Is The New Microsoft


Over in Europe, antitrust officials are just now gearing up an investigation into Microsoft (MSFT) for bundling IE with Windows. But in Obama’s America, when it comes to antitrust, Google (GOOG) is the new Microsoft.

At least that’s what Christine Varney, Obama’s pick to head up the Justice Department’s antitrust division, thinks. Bloomberg has dug up a fascinating talk Christine gave last year, waving off Microsoft and warning on Google’s power.

And Christine knows a thing or two about Microsoft and antitrust: In the Clinton administration, she lobbied the government on behalf of Netscape to investigate the Windows-maker.

The whole thing is worth a read. We recently saw a proposed Yahoo (YHOO)-Google search deal scrapped on antitrust grounds, it looks like we should expect even more scrutiny of Google moves in this administration.

“For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem,” Varney said at a June 19 panel discussion sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute. The U.S. economy will “continually see a problem — potentially with Google” because it already “has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising,” she said.

In her remarks at the American Antitrust Institute, Varney advocated aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws to curb the conduct of individual companies that dominate an industry. She didn’t return a reporter’s telephone call seeking comment today…

Her comments on Google last year combined praise for the company along with her warnings. The Mountain View, California- based company, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, is a “spectacular” innovator that became the dominant online advertiser through “terrific work,” Varney said.

She also said Google had “lawfully” obtained its monopoly.

Still, Google is “quickly gathering market power in what I would call an online computing environment in the clouds,” she said, using a software industry term for software that is based on the Internet rather than in individual personal computers.

“When all our enterprises move to computing in the clouds and there is a single firm that is offering a comprehensive solution,” Varney said, “you are going to see the same repeat of Microsoft.”