Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer thinks that Google is a monopoly and that the government should step in and do something about it.
So he said on Thursday at Microsoft’s analyst conference in Bellevue, Wash. He was discussing how so few companies have grown really huge by offering cloud services to consumers, even though there are a few up-and-comers like Facebook.
Of all the markets Microsoft plays in, and it pretty much hits them all (devices, software, cloud for consumers and the enterprise), Ballmer says that making money in consumer cloud services is the toughest.
“Google does it. They have, dare I say, a monopoly. We are the only company on the planet still trying to compete with it,” he said.
And Microsoft is pressuring the authorities to investigate Google when it comes to search:
This [search] is a scale game because the market for advertising is auction-based economics. If we have exactly the same quality of algorithms but less scale in search advertising we get less revenue per search than Google which means they have more money to pay for distribution on Samsung or Apple. Rumour is they pay each $US1 to $US3 billion a year for distributing their search products. We have to generate volume to step up.
I believe that Google’s practices are worthy of discussion with competition authority. And we have certainly discuss them with competition authorities. I don’t think their practices are getting less merit tortuous of discussion. We highlighted some bad practices in advertising and discussions with regulators, the bundling they’re doing with You Tube and Google Maps. I think they need pressure from competition. I think they need pressure in the marketplace with product, with investment, with scale. How do we get scale? On our own devices or on somebody with whom we’re closely aligned.
That’s rich and ironic coming Ballmer. Microsoft was under scrutiny in the U.S. for a decade after the Department of Justice declared it was a monopoly and was violating anti-trust law by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. As late as March of this year, EU regulators were still fining Microsoft for not keeping its anti-trust agreement with them.
Still, Microsoft could get its way. All kinds of government agencies have been listening and saber rattling around Google, threatening investigations into this or that. Some of them have ended more-or-less in Google’s favour, like an FTC investigation in January that found Google was not abusing its search engine to favour advertisers.
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