The Federal Trade Commission's rumored anti-trust investigation into Google threatens to be "the biggest federal inquiry" into the search giant to date. Is this a U.S. v. Microsoft redux? The Wall Street Journal thinks so. "Google’s search engine stature in today’s Internet age is not dissimilar to Microsoft’s control of the Windows operating system. Both companies controlled technology that other players in the field can’t do without." So what aspects of Google's business are going to come under scrutiny? Here's what experts are pointing to.
Search and advertising By all accounts, this will be the main focus of the investigation. Right now, Google controls 65.5 percent of the search market, according to comScore, with Yahoo at 16 percent and Bing at 14 percent. The main argument coming from smaller companies is that Google favors its own web services in search results and downgrades the results from smaller competitors. "By making a site more or less likely to rise to the top of its search results, Google theoretically could affect how much traffic a Web site got and therefore how much it could charge for advertising," reports The New York Times. The problem with Google is that it has its hands in dozens of different industries, which could crack the investigation wide open."The segments of Google's business the FTC is most likely to investigate are the ones that overlap with other companies' business," David Balto the former policy director of the FTC told us this morning.