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Google's wireless folly? or hubris?

The WSJ article today: Google has even bigger plans for mobile phones appropriately addresses the big “open” question of whether Google is serious about becoming a wireless carrier, because if it is, it will need to bid and win substantial spectrum in the upcoming FCC 700 MHz spectrum auction.

 

The WSJ article states: “the behind-the-scenes moves illustrate just how serious the Internet giant is about trying to reshape the wireless world.” The evidence in favor of Google’s serious entry into wireless is significant, as Google:

Analyzing the FTC-EU divergence in reviewing the Google-DoubleClick merger

Ironically, just as the EU is gearing up to conduct an "in-depth investigation" of the Google-DoubleClick merger, the FTC investigation is apparently wrapping up with a whimper. What accounts for this divergence in approaches to this merger review?

The first and obvious explanation is differences in the process and timing.

EU launches "in-depth investigation" of Google-DoubleClick merger; What it means

EU antitrust authorities have launched a rare "in-depth investigation" of the Google-DoubleClick merger. What does this action mean? 

First, in calling Google and DoubleClick "the leading providers" respectively of online advertising/intermediation services and ad serving technology, the EU has tipped its hand in its assessment of a central fact in the investigation that it views these two companies as #1 in the world in their specialties. This obviously troubles Google as they have portrayed DoubleClick as a minor player because of its smaller revenue base in the $300m range. The EU obviously did not buy that Google spin.

Second, the EU rejected Google's blanket assertion that "the parties' activities do not overlap" which is Google's fancy way of saying Google and DoubleClick are not competitors. Well the EU pointedly rejected that Google assertion of fact in stating: "The Commisssion will, in particular, investigate whether without this transaction, DoubleClick would have grown into an effective competitor of Google in the market for online ad intermediation." The obvious implication of this statement is that the EU does see Google and DoubleClick as competitors. And it has framed the question in a way that must trouble Google, which is that they are analyzing the merger through the lens of how competition would develop without this merger. hmmm 

Googlers -- the new nobility -- taking elitism to new heights

I thought you might enjoy the latest evidence that Googlers think of themselves as special, better than the rest of us, a form of American nobility, the elite of the elite. 

From the recent Newsweek article: "Google goes globe-trotting":

  • "Google is like Fantasy Land," says APM David Hammer, 24, who hails from Newton, Mass. "You're one of the chosen people." (bold added)
    • "the chosen people."  ...in a Googlers own words.  Hmmmm. I thought that moniker was already taken, and as I remember, it was not self-granted.  
  • The Newsweek article continues: "Actually, it's like being one of the Lost Boys from "Peter Pan.""
    • For those of you who didn't remember them like me, the lost boys were immortals who lived in Neverland with Peter Pan... By the way, isn't Michael Jackson's estate called Neverland? 
  • The article then described: "At headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Google has 17 no-cost dining areas, each focused on a specific cuisine, including Asian fusion vegan and tapas. There are swimming pools, health clinics, beach-volleyball courts and massage rooms."

This Newsweek article preceded the precious front page New York Times story of today: "Google Options Make Masseusse a Multi-Millionaire."

The Mother of net neutrality calls for spanking of Democratic Chairman for not paying attention

If Professor Tim Wu is the "Father" of net neutrality, since he named the issue in 2002, I guess Gigi Sohn can be called the "Mother" of net neutrality because in 2002 her organization, Public Knowledge, birthed the original political manifesto on this type of thinking: "Saving the Information Commons."   

Yesterday Ms. Sohn, the Mother of net neutrality, participated in a conference call for left-leaning bloggers to indoctrinate them into the right and wrong way to blog about FreePress/Public Knowledge's petition to the FCC on Comcast's network management.

  • Well when Mom's not happy, nobody's happy.  
  • In response to questions about what bloggers could do, Mother neutrality effectively called on bloggers to spank Senate Chairman Innouye for not listening to Mom.
    • The impertinence of those 83 year-old, seven-term U.S. Senators who won't listen and do as their told!
    • Where is the respect anymore?   

Ted Hearn of MultiChannel News had a great story on this: "Sohn to bloggers: target Inouye

Google-DoubleClick: Great new antitrust study on why privacy is relevant to this antitrust review

I was very impressed with Ohio State law Professor Peter Swire's insightful analysis of why, in the context of the FTC antitrust review of the Google-DoubleClick merger, privacy harms are relevant to the traditional antitrust analysis.

  • "In brief, privacy harms can reduce consumer welfare, which is a principal goal of modern antitrust analysis. In addition, privacy harms can lead to a reduction in the quality of a good or service, which is a standard category of harm that results from market power. Where these sorts of harms exist, it is a normal part of antitrust analysis to assess such harms and seek to minimize them."
  • "To the extent proponents of the merger seek to justify the merger on efficiency grounds, such as personalization, then privacy harms to consumers should be considered as an offset to the claimed efficiencies."

In my Googleopoly analysis and my Senate Judiciary Subcommittee testimony on the Google-DoubleClick merger, I viewed the massive aggregation of customer clickstream data to be highly anti-competitive as it would create a tipping point and unsurmountable barriers for others to compete.

American Antitrust Institute calls for FTC to block Google-DoubleClick

The American Antitrust Institute, an independent non-profit advocacy organization just released its white paper:

Like my Googleopoly analysis from this July and my Senate Judiciary Subcommittee testimony in October, the aai concludes that Google and DoubleClick are indeed direct competitors and that: "the merger presents a relatively straightforward case for challenge under the horizontal and non-horizontal merger guidelines."

  • Moreover, the aai stated: "We also see a risk of significant foreclosure effects from Google's control over DoubleClick's publisher and advertiser tools and integration of those tools with Google's dominant search engine and contextual advertising network."

Bottom line: This merger obviously raises serious anti-competitive issues and I continue to believe it should be blocked, but that does not mean that I still think it will be blocked by the FTC -- I no longer do.

Why FreePress' Comcast Petition unreasonably defines "reasonable network management"

The FreePress Comcast petition has an unreasonable view of what "reasonable" network management is in the FCC's net neutrality policy.

First, the petitioners ignore the reason the FCC exists in the first place -- the absolute necessity for some network management in order for communications systems to function as needed.

  • The predecessor to the FCC, the Federal Radio Commission was created in 1927 because of the chaos of an completely unmanaged network (like the petitioners currently are advocating for) --
    • too many stations were broadcasting on too few frequencies making the airwaves a garbled and unworkable "tragedy of the commons."
  • The Government brought order to this chaos by granting the FRC/FCC the authority to make spectrum licensed property, grant licenses, and assign frequencies and power levels for each license.  

Second, the petitioners ignore that "reasonable network management" of communications is directly analogous to reasonable traffic management of our roadways.

Father of net neutrality admits "the whole net neutrality issue is really about a power struggle"

Tim Wu, the "father of net neutrality" because he made up the term a few years back, was surprisingly candid in a CNET article that: "the whole net neutrality issue is really about a power struggle."

  • Well we now know net neutrality is not about:
    • A supposedly longstanding non-discrimination "principle" of the Internet;
    • all bits being equal; or
    • freedom of speech.
  • It's about "power."
    • We knew it all along. 
      • It's really about the "power struggle" over corporate welfare for the dotcom billionaires at Google and eBay who want the consumer to subsidize their piggish bandwith demands in order to maintain their 90% gross profit margins.  

I also found another candid quote by the Moveon.org/FreePress folks that also tells us what they are up to:

Bogus petition against Comcast's reasonable network management is a back door ploy to reinstate common carriage for broadband

The Moveon.org/FreePress petition to the FCC to declare Comcast's reasonable network management illegal, is a deceptive back-door scheme to reverse FCC deregulation of broadband as an information service and to (de facto) reinstate common carriage for broadband.

  • The petition will be found to be a bogus and manufactured scheme to deceive the FCC and the public that necessary, responsible, and "reasonable network management" -- that serves consumers and the Internet public by delivering quality of service and protecting consumers from the harm of viruses, spam etc. -- should be declared illegal "degrading" of an Internet application.
  • Upon full FCC airing of this issue, it will be clear that the offending P2P application traffic is the culprit that is in fact harming the overwhelming majority of Internet consumers by "degrading and imparing" the responsiveness and utility of the Internet for the many because of the irresponsible bandwidth hogging of the few.

First, if managing out-of-control p2p traffic that is degrading and impairing the responsiveness and utility of the Internet for the many by the few is not "reasonable network management" then no network management is reasonable.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths