So, Google has come under scrutiny by the US Federal Trade Commission for possible anti-competitive practices. While I would say the FTC has far larger threats to competition to worry about (the inevitable p-word), it would appear there’s sufficient suspicion to take a gander at Google’s business practices.
It’s important to note that the FTC is not interested in investigating the kind of Google products most of us use. Nobody is locking us into Google Search, GMail, YouTube, Picasa, Google Docs, and so on. In fact, Google makes it very easy to take your data with you to different services, and in doing so, ensures that you are never forced to use anything from Google. Being a web company, Google tends to use open technologies anyways, unlike its competitors.
No, we’re fine. People who aren’t fine, however, are Google’s other customers – the customers that actually make Google money. Google is accused of favouring its own services in search results, non-transparent pricing schemes for advertising, and so on.
“Google engages in anticompetitive behavior […] that harms consumers by restricting the ability of other companies to compete to put the best products and services in front of Internet users, who should be allowed to pick winners and losers online, not Google,” Fairsearch.org, a group representing, among others, Microsoft, told the WSJ.
I’m in favour of this investigation, even if it has no merit at all. Large and influential companies should be kept close tabs on, whether they make software, cars, or whatever. Even if nothing ever turns up, it keeps them on edge, on their toes, and it ensures they stay on the right track.