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Antitrust

A concise summary of the excellent FTC report on Net Neutrality

I strongly recommend the FTC staff report on "Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy" to anyone wanting an objective, well-reasoned, fair, and comprehensive review of the facts and evidence of the net neutrality regulation debate.

I believe the most important sentence in the whole 170 page staff report, which covered an enormous and comprehensive public record on the subject, was on page 11 and again on page 160:

  •  "To date we are unaware of any siginificant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm from conduct by broadband providers." [Bold emphasis added]
  • I believe that's the best bottomline summary conclusion of the report.

The FTC report can be further well summarized by the following four sentences found on pages 10, 11, 155 and 11 respectively:

  • "We recommend policymakers proceed with caution in evaluating proposals to enact regulations in the area of broadband Internet access."
  • "Policymakers also should carefully consider the potentially adverse and unintended effects of regulation in the area of broadband Internet accesss before enacting any such regulation."
  • "Over time, competition produces the best results for consumers, providing them the lowest prices, the highest quality products and services, and the most choice."
  • "The FTC will continue to devote substantial resources to maintaining competition and protecting consumers in the area of broadband Internet access, using a variety of tools."

In closing, I was very impressed with the FTC staff's knowledge, sophistication, and fair representation of both sides' views.

Google's perverse version of the "Golden Rule"

Google's naiveté and cluelessness on antitrust matters continues to amaze me. While Google has ramped up its Washington lobbying presence a ton of late, it is amusing that the company-at-large still does not have a lick of political savvy or common sense.

It is almost as if Google operates having an out-of-body experience, where their leaders think they can float sanctimoniously above the playing field and see everything perfectly, but no one can see them or what they are doing.

What do I mean? Let me put Google's antitrust and political behavior into context.

  • Google is ferociously going after Microsoft on antitrust matters. After they recently won a huge concession from Microsoft to make Google's desktop search work better and faster -- a concession not required by the DOJ-supervised committee that oversees Microsoft's competitive behavior -- Google is now asking for Microsoft's antitrust decree not to expire.
  • This is classic, hardball, take-no-prisoners behavior that sometimes yields short-term results, but always invites long-term disaster.
  • In effect, Google is taunting the antitrust-caged Microsoft tiger, imagining that they are untouchable, invincible and legally superior.

It is amazing to me that Google appears to be unaware and clueless that they have voluntarily walked into their own “antitrust cage" of the FTC review process for approving two of their deals, DoubleClick and FeedBurner.

Webopolies Google and eBay kiss and make up after spat

Reuters reports that ebay will "resume Web advertising on a limited basis with Google..." 

  • After witholding its advertising affections from Google for 10 long days, it appears that Google was sufficiently contrite and apologetic to eBay for its bad manners in competing with eBay by hosting a party for its competing online payment product, Checkout, in the same city as eBay's big confab that highlights it dominant online payment service, PayPal.

There are a few important points to be made about Internet "competition" here.

  • First, there is little competition in the online auction listings. According to Jupiter Research, eBay has 95% of the online auction market, hence my "webopoly" moniker" for eBay.
  • Second, eBay likes to tie its leading online payment service, PayPal to its online auction listings webopoly, because it does not allow its users to use Google's Checkout service.
    • Interesting actual behavior for a company that fears potential broadband access problems via no net neutrality. 
  • Third, there are some serious competitive conflicts of interest going on here between eBay and Google.
    • The mature auction webopoly, EBay  apparently was successful in teaching aspiring search webopoly, Google, a thing or to about competition on the web.
    • The message was "don't mess  with my webopoly, go dominate another corner of the Internet.
  • Fourth, it appears Google got the message and realized it is in their profit maximizing interest to not fully compete with eBay, but focus its efforts on further dominating its access to content "corner" of the Internet by buying up DoubleClick and Feedburner.     

MySpace's bizzare flirtation with Yahoo; Yahoo exiting search?

I was surprised in yesterday's news splashes on the potential swap of MySpace to Yahoo for roughly a quarter of Yahoo.

I am blogging on this because the news follow-up does not appear to have connected the dots about how bizarre this combination sounds economically and competitively.

While on the surface it seems logical because Yahoo was reportedly in talks to buy MySpace before NewsCorp did.

What makes this bizarre is what has transpired since.

  • NewsCorp took the no revenue MySpace exploding growth audience and did a deal with Google which guaranteed MySpace a minimum of $900m in ad revenue over four years.

GREAT article on privacy: "Is Google too big" PC World

Anyone concerned about their privacy should read the GREAT article in PC World on Google and privacy, and in particular should look at the call out box to see the risk about all that Google knows about you.  

  • The article does a great job of explaining all the ways that others and the government could easily access tons of private information on you via Google's huge cache of private information on you.
  • Google is quickly becoming the enabler of George Orwell's feared "Big Brother" in "1984."

Let's see if the mainstream press picks up on this obvious and interesting populist story... it has legs.

What? We're not one of Google's favorite blogs! How can that be!

Can you believe it?

Google launches its new public policy blog today and the NetCompetition/Precursorblog is not one of the blog links under "What We Are Reading!" Horrors!

First of all, it is not very "authentic" of the Google bloggers to not admit that they regularly read Precursorblog -- we know they do!

  • Of course they do.
  • It's just one of those guilty pleasures that they do behind closed doors because it is not politically correct at Google to expose one's mind to conservative or free market thoughts.  

Second, don't you believe for a minute that Google does not want to know what their latest public policy or PR vulnerability is.

Welcoming Google to the blogosphere!

The following is the comment I posted to Google's first "authentic" blog post on net neutrality in Google's new public policy blog:

Welcome to the blogosphere! We congratulate Google for joining the NN debate more openly using your own "authentic" voice and not those of your surrogates. It is also about time for Google to be more specific on the issue of net neutrality.

NY Times "gets" that Google is "Watching your every move"

It is very rare when I feel compelled to praise the liberal New York Times editorial board for one of its editorial positions, but to be fair, I must when they get an issue dead right.

George Orwell's seminal book "1984" ingrained the totalitarian metaphorical threat of "Big Brother" in the world's thinking and lexicon.

Note to Google: Those in glass houses should not throw stones

Google, in making a high-profile complaint to the Justice Department and State Attorney Generals, about Microsoft's latest operating system Vista, appears to be naively unaware of its own antitrust vulnerabilities in its pending Google-DoubleClick antitrust review at the FTC.

It has always been unwise for those in "glass houses to throw stones."

Why Privacy is a competitive issue in FTC's Google-DoubleClick merger review

Just after Google's CEO Eric Schmidt summarily dismissed privacy concerns as an issue in the FTC's review of the Google-DoubleClick merger, a privacy watchdog group said "Google inc.'s privacy practices are the worst among the Internet's top destinations," according to an AP article "Watchdog group slams Google on privacy." 

  • "...London-based Privacy International assigned Google its lowest possible grade. The category is reserved for companies with "comprehensive consumer surveilance and entrenched hostility to privacy."

American privacy groups are petitioning the FTC (EPIC, CDD, and US PIRG) to address the privacy issue in the context of the Google-DoubleClick merger.

  • Privacy groups in the US and in Europe are rallying around this issue, because as the NY State Consumer Protection Board has said: "Google's database...will make up the world's single largest repository of both personally and non-personally identifiable information."
  • Investors and others that dismiss privacy as a competitive concern in the Google-DoubleClick merger -- do so at their own peril.

Why is privacy a competitive issue in the Google-DoubleClick merger?

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths