Tech Predictions for 2010


Google Faces Antitrust Suit


The Feds are already looking at Google on a variety of fronts. Its deal with book publishers has drawn scrutiny. In 2009 it was hassled by the Federal Trade Commission over possible anticompetitive connections because it shared two board members with Apple, a situation that got resolved when Google CEO Eric Schmidt quit Apple's board, and Arthur Levinson, an Apple board member, quit the Google board. Regulators freaked out again when Google tried to make a search partnership with Yahoo. Supposedly the Feds were ready to bring charges, but then Google walked away from the deal.
After facing this scrutiny in the past year, Google has launched a kind of ongoing publicity campaign, wooing the media and hoping to convince people that it isn't really a big bad company. It likes to say that it's operating in a highly competitive field and that its users can leave with the click of a mouse. But the fact is, Google handles two thirds of all searches in the United States. Whether that can legally be defined as a "monopoly" and whether Google can be shown to have abused its powerful market position remains to be seen. But regulators here and/or in the European Union will find Google so tempting a target that they will not be able to resist bringing a case to find out.