Commentary

Just An Online Minute... When Industry Titans Clash

In a concession to Google, Microsoft has agreed to modify its Vista operating system to make it easier for people to replace its own desktop search engine with Google's.

But the move, coming as Google and Microsoft continue to trade barbs over which company poses more of a monopolistic threat, might not satisfy Google. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Google's chief legal officer issued a statement Tuesday night complaining that Microsoft's tweaks don't go far enough: "These remedies are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers."

Among other changes, Google would like Microsoft to make it simpler for consumers to completely disable the Vista desktop search index. On one hand, it's easy to see why Google's concerned, given Microsoft's history of anti-competitive practices. In fact, Google was in a position to force some changes because of a 2002 consent decree resulting from antitrust charges against Microsoft.

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At the same time, Google currently appears to pose more of a competitive threat in the search arena than Microsoft. Already, Google is the dominant Web search engine, accounting for 65% of U.S. searches, according to Hitwise. If its $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick goes through, Google will also be poised to play a significant role in the online display ad market.

Google's market share in search is so big that some industry observers have suggested that Yahoo, which operates the second largest search engine, should consider shedding that business, according to an article in today's New York Times.

A Yahoo executive told the Times that the company wasn't going to get out of search any time soon. Still, even if Yahoo sticks it out, Google doesn't appear in danger of losing its commanding lead in the search market any time soon.

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