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Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Schmidt took aim at ongoing investigations into Google’s business practices underway on both sides of the Atlantic.
For more than 18 months now, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and its European counterpart the European Commission, have been investigating claims that Google manipulates its search results and that it limits advertising flexibility.
Joaquin Almunia and Jonathan Leibowitz, the antitrust heads of the EC and the FTC, respectively, met in Europe on Monday. Top of their agenda, it is believed, was a discussion of the best approach in their respective cases against Google.
Schmidt suggested regulators have enough information to pull the trigger on their cases and suggested both the EC and FTC should either drop their investigations or go ahead and sue Google. “We have been in quite continuous communication with [them] … it’s time for them to sort of move to one resolution or another,” Schmidt told the WSJ. “It’s not like they don’t have a million documents and so forth.”
While Schmidt said he wasn’t sure what action the regulatory bodies would take, he added that he remains “optimistic” about the outcome.
Antitrust watchdogs in Europe and the U.S. have been looking into complaints from a number of companies that claim Google manipulates the ranking its search results to give priority position to its own products such as Google Shopping on its first results page ahead of rivals.
Also in the regulators’ sights is Google’s Android mobile operating system and the position it holds in the smartphone market. Android devices accounted for 75 percent of all smartphone shipments in the third quarter of this year.
In Europe, regulators are worried that Google’s practice of giving Android free to handset makers may constitute a form of predatory pricing. Microsoft, in contrast, charges handset makers to license its Windows Phone mobile software.
The European Commission has not shied away from fining major corporations if it believes they are violating antitrust law. Just this week, the EC fined seven electronics companies, including Philips, Samsung and Panasonic, a total of $1.9 billion (€1.47 billion) for operating cartels in the television- and computer-monitor tubes business over the past two decades.
In his wide-ranging interview with the WSJ, Schmidt also touched on Google’s relationship with Apple, comparing the dealings between the two tech giants to those of trading nations which disagree and debate but continue to do business and aren’t “sending bombs at each other.”
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