According to the FTC, the tactics were designed to "put the brakes on superior competitive products" that threatened Intel's monopoly. The complaint mentioned AMD's Opteron server processors, released in 2003, as an example. Intel's conduct, carried out over the past decade, resulted in higher prices and less choice for consumers, the FTC said.
As I noted, Intel never admitted it had done anything wrong. It did, however, agree not to offer discounts for manufacturers that use its chips exclusively or punish those who don't. Among other provisions, it revised its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and Via Technologies so that those companies can feel free to evaluate mergers or joint ventures with other businesses without fear of being sued by Intel for patent infringement.
Is the industry poorer because of those provisions? I don't think so. Intel isn't poor either. It maintains a huge market share and is well rewarded for its innovations.
Then there's Microsoft. The company was certainly subjected to a long and expensive ordeal, but in the end it has continued to thrive (at least financially), and the industry is much better off because of the pressure it was subjected to. Imagine a world in which the only browser that would run well on Windows was IE. That's where we'd be today if the government hadn't intervened.
Still hate the notion of antitrust? Imagine a world in which AT&T was never broken up; we'd still be using rotary-dial phones that we were forced to rent from Ma Bell.
If Microsoft, as many believe, is no longer an innovator, that's not because the government picked a winner, but because it was out-innovated by competitors in the fair and competitive technology market.
We'll see what happens with the probe of Google. But scrutiny is never a bad thing. And don't believe the bozos whining about picking winners. That's not what this is about.
This article, "Time to put Google under the microscope," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.