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[Guest Post] Is Google Being Anti-Competitive?

This is a guest post written by Rebecca. If you would like to write for WebGuide4U, check out guest posting guidelines here.

Google has always tried to position itself as the champion of the open web. In spite of repeatedly claiming to be the antithesis of the evil corporation, the recent anti-trust inquiries in the European Union and the United States have brought the Google monopoly issue out into public focus. The question of whether Google is being anti-competitive needs to be looked at in perspective.

The problem is that there are two different perspectives – that of regulatory bodies and the competition themselves, and that of Google and the users of Google’s varied web services. Both these perspectives are sound by themselves, especially from a business point of view.

What is not so sound, though, is the high moral ground that all parties in this debate have been claiming when contrasted against their actions.

The war against restrictive practices in the computing and web services industry dates back to when Microsoft was taken to task over bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. Sadly, the so-called protagonist of that particular battle, Netscape, has been buried by history. Microsoft continues to retain its position as an industry leader even in a scenario where many of its solutions are fast becoming obsolete as computing itself undergoes a revolution.

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Google entered the picture at the same time, offering open web solutions whose only possible claim to restrictive practice, at least at that time, was that they were far superior to other available services. Over the years, Google became the new protagonist, initially by garnering the pole position in the search war.

This gave them an edge over other players in terms of advertising revenue. They followed up by introducing a host of other web and computing services including operating systems, codecs, and a browser. Their latest forays into the Android OS for mobile devices and Chrome-books further consolidated their position.

Somewhere along this journey, they have ended up looking more and more like monopolists, at least to their competition, and recently, to regulators as well. Google defends this by claiming that it is their broad footprint in the web services segment that leads to this perception. Official say that it is their endeavor to provide the best-in-class user experience that results in their products and services leaving the competition behind.

Google users have also their own logic of accepting practices like adopting the proprietary Adobe Flash player, or developing an alternative to JavaScript. They point out how Google’s applications and services have actually helped loosen the monopolistic stranglehold of the industry giants. Cloud computing is a case in point. Google introduced its cloud-based document storage and processing services as an “alternative” to Microsoft’s Office suite, the longstanding staple of business computing.

This, however, was followed up by the launch of the Chrome browser, and the Chrome OS for net-books, and then Chrome-books. With most new features in their services being released as Chrome-only, this can be seen as an anti-competitive stance. The reason that many observers will not agree with Google as being monopolistic is in the fact that in the field of web services, the competition is merely a click away, and in no way prevented from attracting the user base.

Many will point out that, were it not for the Google Docs service, Microsoft might never have come out with a similar version of their Office products. Both Google Docs and the cloud based Microsoft offering have come as a major blessing for users who for years have had to cough up the dollars for every Office upgrade.

However, in the haze of claims and counter claims, one thing stands out clearly. Over the last 13 years, Google has made strategic decisions that are inconsistent with its self declared role of guardian of the open web. How this pans out in terms of fair play practices in the corporate world is something that remains to be seen.

About the author:

Rebecca is a blogger by profession. She likes writing articles on gizmos, technology and travel. These days she is busy in writing her new article on hacking tools on internet.

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