Google slates Microsoft-Yahoo deal

Google billionaire co-founder Larry Page criticized a potential Microsoft takeover of Yahoo, saying it would concentrate too much power in the online communications market, stifling innovation and curbing competition. But he discounted the idea that an advertising deal between Google and Yahoo – one the two companies are now exploring would present any potential antitrust problems.

In his first authorized activate for Google to the nation’s capital, Page spoke on Thursday at a forum sponsored by the New dweller Foundation conceive tank about expanding affordable access to high-speed internet service and opening up cellular networks to more applications, services and devices. The territory was friendly as Google chief executive Eric Schmidt was recently elected chairman of the conceive tank, which counts telecommunications and technology policy in its varied body of work. Schmidt, a board member since 1999, was not at the talk.

“Now, if you put 90 per cent of communications all in one company … that’s really a big risk, especially one (Microsoft) that has a history of doing intense stuff” he said. “So if you want to have good products you need to have some degree of openness.” However, ComScore earlier this year provided data that showed a combined Microsoft-Yahoo company would have about a 70 per cent email and instant messaging market share in the United States and a 77 per cent market share worldwide. ComScore figures were from December.

Court oversight of Microsoft’s market power began in 2002 after an antitrust settlement was reached among Microsoft, the federal government and 17 states, barring the software maker from seeking deals with computer makers to exclude rival software. It was intended to also keep the company from using its operative system monopoly to hinder competition in other products. Microsoft also faces scrutiny in the European Union, where regulators have opened two antitrust probes.

Page also talked up Google’s push to use fallow TV airwaves, or so-called white spaces, for affordable broadband service and other similar initiatives. He said Google is participating in a government spectrum auction to open up cellular networks to more devices, applications and services. Google had bid US$4.6 billion ($5.9 billion) for a swath of spectrum in an effort to impose provisions allowing any device or service to work on a resulting network, but lost out to the eventual winner, Verizon Communications.

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