Eric Schmidt thinks Bing rules

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Image source: Google, with a little help from MSPaint

Was Eric Schmidt defending Google or Bing in his testimony to Congress on Wednesday? 

Google’s chairman mentioned Microsoft’s search engine 11 times in his speech, praising it in every instance. He noted how Bing has “continued to gain in popularity,” and delivers richer results than Google.

"In fact, according to an October 2010 study published by Comscore, Bing contained these ‘rich results’ on their results pages 54 percent of the time, while Google only provided rich results 33 percent of the time," Schmidt noted in his prepared testimony.

Schmidt also noted that Bing’s search integration with Facebook gives it a “tremendous competitive advantage.” 

And then, Schmidt landed a whopper, saying Bing could even eclipse Google by next year: “Microsoft’s Bing launched in June 2009 and has grown so rapidly that some commentators have speculated that it could overtake Google as early as 2012.”

Obviously, Schmidt is lavishing an arch rival with praise to explain how Google is not a monopoly (which isn’t even the issue, but I digress). But that last quote really stands out as complete and utter nonsense.

The “commentator” is Mashable’s Christina Warren (this is not meant to be a judgment on Warren, I’m sure she’s great). The “speculation” was from an April article, extrapolating out trend lines of seven months of Hitwise data. The trend lines crossed in January 2012, with Bing overtaking Google.

To get there, the extrapolation predicted that by now, Google would have just 55% of the search market, while Bing would command 40%. We know neither is true — Microsoft just said last week that it has less than a 15% share.

Also, Hitwise is great as a marketing tool, but comScore’s metrics are preferred by the industry (including Microsoft and Google).

The point is that Eric Schmidt knows all of this. And presented Congress with a bald-faced lie. -David

AT&T better lawyer up

This is in the realm of legal dorkery, but it’s interesting to note that AT&T is actually arguing the wrong legal standard in its response to the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit.

On pages 23-24, AT&T says, “It is Plaintiff’s burden to prove that, on balance, in light of all the evidence, including the pro-competitive, efficiency-enhancing effects, the net effect of the transaction is to substantially lessen competition.”

That’s not true. According to Maurice Stucke, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and former U.S. Attorney for the DOJ’s antitrust division, the Justice Department actually only needs to prove that the merger may lessen competition — not will.

That’s a far less stringent burden. AT&T had better make sure it has all its arguments together when the case goes to court. -David

Google’s antitrust sleight of hand won’t fool the FTC

What ever happened to Google’s “don’t be evil” mantra?

In Google’s latest public policy blog posting, the company quotes a series of bland, non-legal arguments like “where Google competes, consumers benefit,” or “competition is just a click away.”

Monopoly or not, there are serious issues on the table that Google is trying to disguise with a slight of hand trick.

The two biggest issues on the table appear to be:

1)       Google isn’t sharing YouTube metadata with competitors, giving its search engine better video results.

2)       Google enters into overly broad exclusivity agreements that prevent advertisers from doing business with other search engines.

Though Google may be trying to sway public opinion in its favor, the Federal Trade Commission isn’t going to be fooled if it finds Google to be abusing its dominant position in the search market.

This is likely the most serious legal battle Google has ever faced. It’s time for Google to start taking it seriously. -David

Shocker: Industry-backed analysts think industry recruiting tactics are A-OK

It’s a journalistic axiom that news people want buried gets “announced” at 4:05 pm on Fridays, right after the stock market has closed and everyone is trying to bolt for the door.

So it was no surprise today when the DOJ’s rumored settlement with six tech giants —Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar — over their agreements to limit attempts to poach staff from each other landed in our inboxes at 4:20 pm. The DOJ sued and settled in the same day; this is clearly a case everyone involved wants to go through the motions on fast and then make it go away.

Our reporter reached out to all six companies, which began shooting back their prepared statements on how they have done nothing wrong but are settling because the proposed settlement is one they can live with (basically, they each agree not to block their recruiters from cold-calling talent at rivals).

But one company went further, sending over their official response and then following up with a link to this blog post: Antitrust and high-tech: The Do-Not-Cold-Call list, by Tom Lenard of the innocuously named Technology Policy Institute.

And who chairs this Washington think tank? Ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Shockingly, a think tank run by an ex-Big Tech poobah sees no problem with Big Tech companies secretly agreeing to limit their poaching overtures to each others’ staffers. 

I think we can pass on quoting that analysis. -Stacy