One of the things that struck me the most about talking to all the folks at Google was this principle: the closer you got to the core, the more you heard the word “Microsoft.” Eric Schmidt spent most of his career fighting (and losing to) Microsoft. Ram Shriram worked at Netscape, as did Omid Kordestani. John Doerr – enough said. The folks who are closest to Larry and Sergey are very, very worried about Microsoft, as well they should be.
Today’s NYT has a piece which provides some details on what Google is doing about that concern. From it:
With a $10 billion advertising market at stake, Google, the fast-rising Internet star, is raising objections to the way that it says Microsoft, the incumbent powerhouse of computing, is wielding control over Internet searching in its new Web browser.
Google, which only recently began beefing up its lobbying efforts in Washington, says it expressed concerns about competition in the Web search business in recent talks with the Justice Department and the European Commission, both of which have brought previous antitrust actions against Microsoft.
The new browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft’s MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors.
Web 2 aside, most folks use IE, and it’s still a critical distribution channel for Google. With Microsoft increasingly seen as the underdog in all things Internet, it’s not surprising to hear that Google is actively reminding the world of Microsoft’s virtual monopoly on browsing, nor is it a surprise to see how active Google is in promoting Firefox.
Again from Lohr’s piece:
The focus of Google’s concern is a slender box in the corner of the browser window that allows users to start a search directly instead of first going to the Web site of a search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN. Typing a query and hitting “Enter” immediately brings up a page of results from a designated search engine.
That slice of on-screen real estate has the potential to be enormously valuable, and Microsoft is the landlord. Internet Explorer 7 is the first Microsoft browser to have a built-in search box, while other browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari have had them for some time. Google estimates that the boxes, when available, are the starting point for 30 to 50 percent of a user’s searches, making them a crucial gateway to the lucrative and fast-growing market for advertisements that appear next to search results.
Read to the end to get the kicker: PC makers can change the default engine in IE7 – selling it to the highest bidder. Now do you wonder why Google is in bed with Dell?