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Bork-Sidak's Fatally Flawed Google Antitrust Defense

As an unabashed Milton Friedman conservative, I strongly agree with Judge Robert H. Bork and Professor J. Gregory Sidak that antitrust law's purpose is to protect competition and the competitive process and not to protect competitors. I also hold my fellow conservatives in highest regard. However, as a highly-experienced and esteemed judge and professor, they know they must prove their case on the merits. In Google's case, they have not.

While it would be difficult to challenge the sophistication of their legal analysis, it is not hard to discredit the sophistication of their economic analysis of the relevant market, economics, and behavior in question. Their defense indicates that they have fully-adopted Google's core economic premises and public-representations, so their skilled legal arguments can do no better than the fatally-flawed material with which Google has given them to work.

Specifically, their legal analyses rest upon a misunderstanding of the relevant market in question. Since antitrust prosecution is fact-driven, not theory dependent, no amount of legal or economic theoretical elegance can overcome a fatally-flawed factual predicate.

Internet Astroturf 3.0 -- Internet as Oz Series Part 3

Pro-piracy interests have been organizing globally to head off and defeat future anti-piracy legislation (like SOPA/PIPA), IP treaties (ACTA) and property rights enforcement, all while claiming to represent "the Internet" and all its users, when they do not. They collectively represent pro-piracy special interests.

They hijack popular political buzz-words like "Internet Freedom" and "innovation," to distract people from their fringe anti-property views and to simulate broad mainstream political support.

("Astroturf" in a public policy context connotes artificial grassroots, simply proclaiming to be something one is not in order to gain broader political support.)

This analysis spotlights the political interests and strategy of global pro-piracy interests. It also answers several key questions:

  • What unites pro-piracy special interests?
  • Who are the top ten Internet astroturf 3.0 players?
  • If this is Internet astroturf 3.0, what was 1.0 and 2.0?
  • What's the main difference with Internet astroturf 3.0?
  • What are the main political techniques of Internet astroturf 3.0?
  • What are Internet astroturf 3.0's three grand deceptions?

Google Mocks EU & FTC Antitrust Enforcement in Courting Yahoo Again -- Part 9 Google Unaccountability Series

Google is mocking EU and FTC antitrust enforcement authorities in seeking to partner (collude) again with Yahoo, its #2 competitor, at the same time Google is deep in antitrust negotiations with the EU antitrust authorities who have already concluded Google is a predatory search monopolist, and while the FTC staff is poised to potentially recommend a sweeping Section 5 antitrust case against Google for deceptive and unfair business practices.

Yesterday Google Chairman Eric Schmidt publicly reiterated that Google would love to be a search partner with Yahoo.

Either Google is somehow confident of back-room political fixes to all their antitrust enforcement troubles, or Google is mocking antitrust authorities with a cavalier "stop us if you can" attitude.

Google continues to act as if it is accountable to no one. Let's review some pertinent history and facts to put in perspective how reckless Google's behavior is in this context.

Top False Claims of the New Internet Association -- Part 2 of Internet as Oz Series

Unfortunately, the new Internet Association launched yesterday making several false claims.

Claim: "The Internet Association, the nation's first trade association representing the interests of the Internet economy, America's leading Internet companies and their vast community of users…"

Truth: This "first" claim is unsupportable; several different Internet groups have had similar purposes long before this Internet Association: The Internet Society; The Internet Engineering Task Force; Net Coalition; SaveTheInternet.com; The Open Internet Coalition; The Internet Defense League; The Internet Freedom Coalition; The Internet Alliance; The Internet Marketing Association; The Internet Commerce Association and The Internet Infrastructure Coalition.

Who but Google is Thriving in Online Advertising?

Evidence abounds that the industry business model of online advertising, minus Google, is shockingly weak competitively, given how many people assume advertising is supposed to be the viable competitive monetization engine that will sustain the "free and open Internet" long term.

Anyone open to connecting-the-dots of recent public evidence will see an obvious dichotomy: Google is thriving, while much of the rest of the online advertising industry is struggling despite unprecedented: opportunity to reach users, technological efficiencies, and access to troves of private data to target ads to produce more revenue growth.

Examine the accumulating troubling evidence of how weak online advertising competition has become.

The Internet Advertising Bureau's latest reporting of 15% online advertising growth for the industry in 1Q12 masks the large Google vs. competitor revenue growth dichotomy. Given that Google grew 24% 1Q12 and comprises almost half of all U.S. online advertising per eMarketer, I calculate that the rest of the online advertising industry is growing only about 8%. That means Google is growing three times faster than its online competitors and continues to take market share at an accelerating rate.

Why FTC's $22.5m Google Privacy-Fine is Faux Accountability

If one fact-checks and puts in perspective the FTC's expected $22.5m privacy fine of Google -- for bypassing millions of Apple Safari users' privacy and security settings to add a tracking cookie to track users browsing activity -- it looks like faux FTC accountability of Google. Close scrutiny of the FTC's oversight record of Google's exceptionally bad consumer record and very long privacy rap sheet suggests that Google could have little to fear from the FTC on pending privacy or antitrust enforcement going forward, despite PR and optics to the contrary. Unfortunately, the evidence to date indicates the FTC's enforcement oversight of Google has had minimal accountability or deterrent effect on Google's behavior.

To be fair to the FTC, the FTC does not have all the legal authority it needs to fully address the Google privacy enforcement problem, but that being acknowledged, many poor FTC decisions have further self-limited the FTC's ability to confront the exceptional Google enforcement problem.

I. Google appears to enjoy faux FTC Accountability.

Google's Picking a Third Antitrust Fight in Becoming a Domain Registrar

Is anyone paying attention to the profound antitrust implications of Google applying to ICANN to become the world's largest domain registrar for Internet Taxonomy 2.0 -- the next generation of Internet addressing and classification of information? Giving the world's dominant search engine -- that is already under antitrust investigation on four continents for favoring Google content over competitors' content -- the additional market power of controlling the allocation of new keyword domain-names which Google would then index for publishers, rank for users, and monetize for advertisers, is an unquestionable conflict of interest and a recipe for more Google monopolization.

ICANN's original Internet taxonomy 1.0 involved truly "generic" top level domains as like .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .mil, organized around institutional purposes and around geography to recognize sovereign nation authority like .US, .UK, .JP, .NZ, etc.

Where's the Market for Online Privacy?

Why are market forces so weak in protecting users’ online privacy?

The main reason is that the online marketplace is economically structured around users being a commodity, data, to be aggregated and mined, not customers to be served and protected in a competitive marketplace. That’s because the overriding economic force that created the free and open commercial Internet – the predominant Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO value creation model – was and remains largely antithetical to protecting online privacy.

The Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO driven model is laser-focused on achieving Internet audience/user scale fastest in order to gain first-mover advantage and then rapid dominance of a new product or service segment. This predominant Internet economic model is predicated on a precious few investments achieving such rapid user scale that it: warrants a buy-out at an enormous premium multiple; enables fast and exceptionally-profitable liquidity (via the new secondary derivative market for private venture shares or employee options); or broad liquidity via a public IPO.

What is the essential critical element of achieving audience/user scale fastest? Free. No direct cost to the user fuels fastest, frictionless, viral adoption. This free economic model presupposes online advertising as an eventual monetization mechanism and shuns products and services directly paid for by the user because their inherent time-to-market is too slow and their upfront sunk cost of sales and customer service is too high for this predominant value creation model.

Twitter’s Realpolitik & The Sovereign-ization of the Internet

Reports that “Twitter Can Censor by Country” is a perfect example of how the world is changing the Internet. Change is a two-way street. Conventional wisdom that only assumes the Internet is changing the world risks being blind-sided by the Internet’s underappreciated exa-trend: how the world is changing the Internet.

See my Forbes Tech Capitalist post: "Twitter Realpolitik & the Sovereignization of the Internet" to learn about Twitter's new realpolitik and how sovereign powers will increasingly be asserting themselves vis a vis the Internet.

The Google+ Antitrust Smoking Gun

Usually one of the hardest things to prove in an antitrust case is anti-competitive intent and motive, but Google’s new CEO Larry Page has made that much easier for antitrust authorities by unabashedly tying and leveraging Google’s search dominance with Google+ in a myriad of overt and covert ways.

To learn Google's "grand plan" and what the Google+ antitrust "smoking gun" is, please read my Forbes Tech Capitalist post: The Google+ Antitrust Smoking Gun.

 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths