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Microsoft Gives Up, Says It Can't Win: Files an Antitrust Complaint Against Google
Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 12:35 PM EDT

Well, it's official, I take it. Android has won. Google has overturned Microsoft. Microsoft has now waved the white flag and admitted it is an also-ran in search and in mobile, and that it can't win on its own merits without outside help from regulators. That's what I get from its latest move, filing an antitrust complaint against Google with the EU Commission.

You know what I think? I think it means Microsoft still doesn't understand why it got into antitrust hot water, still accepts no responsibility for what happened to the company. I understood that better when I read the Paul Allen excerpt from his book in Vanity Fair. The upper management are portrayed as ethically empty. That would explain why Microsoft now seems to think that all it takes is a competitor to complain, and Google will end up like it did. That leaves out a powerful factor, which is that Microsoft really did abuse its monopoly position and it did harm to the market, to cybersecurity, to customers, to competitors in ways that are disturbing to the rest of us. No one had to use partners and subsidiaries to cook up something to complain about to make it look like it was doing bad things. They really did them, and that is why they ended up in antitrust hot water.

If you've forgotten, Groklaw has an entire page on Microsoft litigation, with a section on the antitrust matter before the EU Commission and another on the US v. Microsoft antitrust case here in America. Or just read the exhibits from the Comes v. Microsoft antitrust litigation that Groklaw is painstakingly putting into searchable plain text for historians, so no one will ever forget what really happened. Here are all the documents that survived the shredder in Caldera v. Microsoft.

After you read all that, think about Google. It's not the same at all, is it? So this laughable conspiracy to try to hold Google's feet to the fire will not end the way it does in Microsoft's dreams, I don't think. Because Google isn't Microsoft. They come from different planets. And that will make all the difference.

Oh, look. A Microsoft partner, Facebook, is complaining about Google because it insists on watching what Facebook does on Androids:

Google says its procedures are about quality control, fixing bugs early, and building toward a "common denominator" experience, says John Lagerling, director of global Android partnerships at Google. "After that, the customization can begin."

Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by "non-fragmentation clauses" that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code—to make new interfaces and add services—and in some cases whom they can partner with. Google's Rubin says that such clauses have always been part of the Android license, but people interviewed for this story say that Google has recently tightened its policies. Facebook, for example, has been working to fashion its own variant of Android for smartphones. Executives at the social network are unhappy that Google gets to review Facebook's tweaks to Android, say two people who weren't comfortable being named talking about the business.

Did you not notice that it says "after that, the customization can begin"? So Google wants quality at launches and then you can still do whatever you want. *That* is the complaint? By the way, control over what is accepted is very much harmonious with Open Source. Linus doesn't let just anything go into the Linux kernel. People complain about that all the time, but it ensures quality and direction.

I truly do hope Google watches Facebook like a hawk, actually, given Facebook's track record on privacy. When I see a phone or tablet or any device that advertises that it easily enables you to post on Facebook, I run like a bunny. I don't trust them at all with my privacy. Period. So, personally, I'm glad if Google watches them.

And, by the way, does Facebook have quality control standards on what outside companies can do with apps for Facebook, for example? I mean, come on.

And as for quality control, it's real. I have an acquaintance I finally got to get an Android phone, and wouldn't you know it, it couldn't play Angry Birds. She happened to get one that wasn't using the latest and greatest, and she was so mad about it she was going to drop the phone. It was possible to finally slide it on sideways, so to speak, and get it to run, and now she loves the phone, but quality control and consistency are hardly unnatural business concerns. Some of the stuff companies are putting out there bring the brand down, and that isn't Google's fault. In fact, if I were evil and wanted to harm Android, I'd put out some piece of Android junk and cackle about it, and take money from whoever might pay me to do an evil deed like that. I remember netbooks.

So frankly the flood of complaining about Google looks to me like a coordinated campaign. There. I said it. I think reporters should research that and write about it next. I'll bet you hit pay dirt.

Google's response:

“We’re not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants,” said Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels.

Google was “happy to explain to anyone how our business works,” Mr. Verney said.

And why not?

And speaking of Microsoft and antitrust, did you see this deal, the French Defense Ministry buying from Microsoft Ireland instead of from the US? Is that legal?

How about the state laws Microsoft is lobbying for these days? Are those laws Constitutional? Even minimally fair? Anybody looking into that?

In short, irony is dead. We have entered a particularly malicious Antitrust Wonderland, where up is down and it's Off With Your Heads for no reason other than you've angered a capricious and peculiarly power-mad queen.

P.S. Some of you will now tell me that companies have to be cut throat, that their sole obligation is to maximize shareholder value. First, that's never been true. Second, I'd like to share with you some info someone sent me from an article on Lexology. Lexology is subscription based, and it's more for lawyers than us mere mortals, but the article, Life Outside Delaware, is really interesting. It talks about the common knowledge that Delaware attracts new businesses by providing benefits to incorporating there, but it says that other states have benefits too that have been inspiring some companies to move elsewhere. Ohio, for example, provides some significant differences from the Delaware code. Here's one the article highlights:

Allowing directors to consider (i) the interests of the coporation's employees, suppliers, creditors and customers; (ii) the economy of the state and nation; (iii) community and societal considerations; and (iv) long-term, as well as short-term interests of the corporation.
As a result, Ohio is now winning the battle for its home-based corporations, and Abercrombie and Fitch are currently considering re-incorporating there. I think you can see the benefit to having such considerations built into your incorporated status if shareholders try to sue you. And heaven only knows we saw what Delaware is like in the SCO bankruptcy. You can be really bad and get away with it there, or at least that is what I took away from Delaware.

But it's a choice. No one has to be bad. Evil is not a business requirement. I believe it was Google who pointed that out, was it not?


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