“Convicted Monopolist”

Google called Microsoft a “convicted monopolist” this week, when talking about how they’re going to fight to prevent Microsoft from abusing their monopoly power when it comes to the default search engine in IE7.

This is a bad sign for Google.

For one thing, does it really seem anti-competitive for a company to use their own search engine as the default one in their own browser?   When you double-click a text file they open their own text editor 

Competitors generally turn to legal and political tactics to fight Microsoft when technical tactics don’t work.  Netscape wasn’t a better browser than Internet Explorer.  Mozilla is gaining ground on IE because it’s a better browser.  In a monopoly, nobody would be able to gain ground on Microsoft.  That’s what a monopoly is. 

In fact, the characteristics that define a monopoly include that “There are no close substitutes for the firm’s product”.  That was clearly not true when the verdict was handed down.  Users could choose to buy a Mac.  Users could choose to run Linux.  But instead, users choose to buy Windows. 

The type of monopoly Microsoft created is similar to the type of monopoly that eBay has created:  The barrier to entry for competitors is huge.  People want to use the auction site that has the most potential bidders, so it’s going to take a miracle to dislodge eBay as the auction king.  Developers want to write software for the platform that has the most potential users, and today, that’s Windows.  And more developers leads to more users.

So Google is falling back on basically name calling.  Yes it’s true that Microsoft is technically a “convicted monopolist” but to use on the legal system that way in your fight against Microsoft should be about as appealing as if Google started fighting patent battles and suing their competitors. 

The other problem with using this tactic of smearing Microsoft is that a lot of people actually like Microsoft.  A lot of the tech world engages in Microsoft hating, but in the real world, most computer users don’t think that Microsoft is evil.