San Fransisco: It handles roughly two-thirds of all Internet searches, owns the largest online video site, YouTube, and last year sold nearly $22 billion (around Rs1 trillion) in advertising.
Yet, how is Google Inc. a relatively small firm, one that is vulnerable to competition?
Dana Wagner, who is Google’s “senior competition counsel”, says “competition is a click away”. It’s part of a stump speech he has given for the last few months to influence public opinion about Google.
Google has begun this public relations offensive because it is in the midst of a treacherous rite of passage for powerful technology companies—regulators are intensely scrutinizing its every move.
The US justice department derailed an important partnership between Google and Yahoo Inc. in November because of concerns it would cement Google’s dominance and reduce competition.
The justice department is now examining the hiring practices at Google and other technology companies, and it is investigating a class-action settlement between Google and groups representing authors and publishers. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into ties between the boards of Google and Apple Inc.
Central to Wagner’s case is the argument that Google is competing for users against sites as diverse as Amazon.com and Wikipedia. And Google is competing for ad dollars with television, radio, print publications, bus stop benches and milk cartons.
“When parties have tried to make the argument that television, newspapers and billboards are part of the same relevant advertising market as radio, that hasn’t flown with the justice department or the courts,” Gregory L. Rosston, an economist at Stanford, said. “That said, the Internet has changed things and they may be able to make that argument now.”
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES