Friday, 24 June 2011 04:49

Google's Biggest Risk Is Now Manifest

As I have warned subscribers through private interaction, Google's number one fundamental risk appears to be manifesting itself and that is the risk of regulatory scrutiny. At the behest of it's competitors ( Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, etc.)  state and federal authorities in the US and abroad have been inquiring into the alleged anti-competitive behavior of Google. Reference Bloomberg:California, New York Start Probe of Google:

New York and California are in the early stages of an antitrust investigation of Google Inc. (GOOG), along with Texas and Ohio, said a person with knowledge of the matter who didn’t want to be identified because the probe isn’t public.

Officials in Texas and at the European Commission have started investigations into Google’s dominance of the Internet search industry. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in March his office was “evaluating the facts” to determine whether it wanted to conduct a probe.

Google, operator of the world’s largest search engine, is coming under increasing scrutiny by regulators in the U.S. and Europe for some of its business practices. The Federal Trade Commission is preparing a broad antitrust investigation of the company, two people familiar with the matter said in April, while the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the company’s $400 million purchase of Internet advertising company Admeld Inc., two people familiar with the matter said last week.

This has been an ongoing theme in Europe, but several US states have just jumped on the bandwagon, including NY, CA, TX and OH, along with the EU. The probes focus mainly on search and privacy issues, Google's bread and butter as well as its hot point in terms of socially incendiary issues.

Its expansion into cloud services and mobile computing has been an outstanding success, and the key question is can it outrun the regulatory quagmire with these new revenue streams in the medium term.

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