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Google Again Under Attack by Microsoft and Others

Google Again Under Attack by Microsoft and Others
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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and 14 other companies have filed a complaint against Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) for what they claim are violations of European antitrust law.

The companies, calling themselves “FairSearch,” according to The Associated Press, called on European authorities to launch an investigation into Google and its practice of giving away its Android operating system to mobile device companies on the condition that the U.S. online giant's own software applications like YouTube and Google Maps are installed and prominently displayed.

"Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a Trojan horse to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data," said Thomas Vinje, the group's Brussels-based lawyer.

In addition to its involvement in the European complaint, Microsoft continues its attack against Google with an advertising campaign, now in its fifth month, which Microsoft calls “Scroogled.”

Ads, which have appeared online, on television and in print cast Google as company more interested in profits than the personal privacy of its customers.

In the most recent ads, Microsoft accused Google of sharing some of the personal information it gathers about customers who have bought Android software for their smartphones or tablets.

Greg Sullivan, Microsoft’s senior manager for the Windows Phone division said, “We think we have a better alternative that doesn’t do these kinds of nefarious things.”

Microsoft’s tactics could potentially backfire, according to some analysts. While the ads may cause some consumers to question Google’s practices, they also point out the fact that Microsoft is the underdog.

“It’s always the underdog that does negative advertising like this,” said Jonathan Weber of search consulting firm LunaMetrics. Weber has been following and commenting on Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign.

Microsoft’s latest ads revolve around concerns that Google doesn’t inform customers that their names, email addresses and neighborhood locations are routinely sent to the makers of apps sold in Google’s online Play store.

Google says it shares a limited amount of personal information about customers to ensure they get better service and faster responses. The company said the practice is allowed under its terms of service. Critics complain that few people read the document in its entirety.

With regard to the latest antitrust complaint by Microsoft and others in Europe, the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive arm and antitrust authority, is not obligated to take any action other than to reply to the complaint.

In midday trading shares of Microsoft are up 2.25 percent at $29.24. Google is up less than one percent at $780.96.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco has no position in any of the mentioned equities.

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