This week the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a lawsuit accusing Google of using “anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets” for search and advertising.
It is the most significant antitrust case since the US government took on Microsoft in 1998 for using its dominant position as the provider of the Windows operating system to force PC makers to bundle its Internet Explorer web browser.
That case was fought out in US courts for years before Microsoft agreed to settle in 2001. This case will no doubt be heavily litigated, and likewise take years to conclude. But it’s not too soon to consider the basic economics.
The bottom line is more complicated than one might think. Yes, Google has a huge share of the search-engine market – 92% globally according to statcounter.com, compared with 2.8% for Microsoft’s Bing, 1.6% for Yahoo! and 0.5% for DuckDuckGo.
But does that give Google …