With Google squarely in their sights, Microsoft and advocate group Consumer Watchdog have joined the chorus of voices calling on the government to take measures to prevent a search monopoly -- or to deal with the one that already exists.
The concerns set forth by Microsoft, Consumer Watchdog, and other observers go beyond whether Google gives unfair prominence in search rankings to paid advertisers. Critiques range from "A company such a Google could abuse its search dominance" to "Google is already abusing its search dominance" to push its other revenue-generating services -- such as maps, video, and shopping searches -- at the expense of competitors.
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As reported by Ars Technica, Microsoft weighed in on the issue in comments sent to the FCC last week, responding to the group's inquiry about the Future of Media in a Digital Age. In its submission Microsoft doesn't mention Google specifically, except in footnotes, but the company does paint of grim picture of an Internet that lacks any effective competition in the area of search: "A dominant provider has the ability to push consumers to content that competes with an existing offering from a competitor and then 'shout over' the competitor simply by causing its search users to believe that its own content is the most popular or relevant."
Lo and behold, the Internet does seems to lack much in the way of effective search competition: According to Experian, Google accounted for 71.4 percent of the total searches in the United States in April. Its top three competitors, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask, made up 15 percent, 9.4 percent, and 2.2 percent of searches, respectively.