It appears Google CEO Eric Schmidt is laying the foundation early to deflect any talk of an antitrust challenge, should it form a partnership with rival Yahoo.
When asked about the potential for an antitrust challenge Schmidt told the New York Times: “We would anticipate structuring a deal to address antitrust concerns.”
The big question isn’t really whether a deal between Yahoo and Google is anticompetitive. Nope, the real question is whether regulators are fearful that Google has become too dominant, when it comes to the search engine industry.
After all, if were merely a case of "is this specific deal anticompetitive" Google could point to similar deals in other industries. As the NYT notes…
The printer industry, they say, is a perfect example. Canon supplies printer engines to about 80 percent of the laser printer market, including its rival Hewlett-Packard. They point to many others, including Whirlpool’s making appliances for Sears, AT&T’s licensing its mobile network to Virgin Atlantic and other small carriers, Toyota’s selling hybrid engines to General Motors and Microsoft’s tailoring its Office software for Apple computers.
Viewed that way, an advertising partnership between Google and Yahoo is not a threat. Both companies retain their brand and ownership, with searchers free to make a choice as to which search engine to use.
However, there’s a lot of questions being raised about Google’s dominance. Questions that Microsoft is all too familiar with. The impact? Expect a Google/Yahoo deal to be scrutinized, not just on the actual implementation of the deal, but the perception of it too.