Microsoft Urges Review of Google-DoubleClick Deal

It’s amazing how quickly things change sometimes. Microsoft, the consummate anti-trust defendee, is now asking for help from antitrust authorities. From the NYT article:

Microsoft, a veteran defendant of epic antitrust battles in the United States and Europe, is urging regulators to consider scuttling Google’s plan to buy DoubleClick, an online advertising company.

Microsoft contends that the $3.1 billion deal, announced on Friday, would hurt competition in the fast-growing market for advertising on the Web and raises questions about how much personal information would be collected by Google, already a dominant player in online advertising.

Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said in an interview yesterday that Google’s purchase of DoubleClick would combine the two largest online advertising distributors and thus “substantially reduce competition in the advertising market on the Web.”

Google dismissed Microsoft’s assertions. “We’ve studied this closely, and their claims, as stated, are not true,” Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, said in an interview last night.

I’d guess many will find this ironic. Microsoft clearly had a different take on “substantially reduced competition” when they were on the other side of the equation. I think this marks a watershed moment for Microsoft. They may have hit the realization that they are unable to effectively compete in a certain market. They’ve thrown money and resources at the situation with little results. The fact that they, of all companies, are so quickly asking for this is indicative of their current situation. It’s even more ironic considering that any deal this big surely would have been throughly reviewed anyway. They’re showing just how weak their position is, with little upside from my point of view. One thing is clear, Microsoft is no longer the bulldozing behemoth they once were. Not by a long shot.

–jeremy

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