Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Success?

Last Updated Oct 12, 2007 7:10 PM EDT

google.jpgWhat happens when one player dominates a market -- and that market has a huge grip on business as a whole? That's the question people are asking about Google these days. Microsoft and Yahoo can't hold a candle to Google's marketshare (the company holds 50 percent of the market for Internet research in the US) and a whole lot of companies are depending on Google ads to make sales. If competitors don't step up their game, Google could be headed toward regulation.

Fortune's David Kirkpatrick dissects the issue:

Given Google's market dominance, the current objections to its $3.2 billion acquisition of ad placement network Doubleclick may be the tip of the iceberg. I see no reason why Google should be prevented from owning Doubleclick, but the reaction to the deal shows that worried advertisers and others are starting to see the company as a dangerous monopolist, just as they have seen Microsoft or, in an earlier era, IBM. (Microsoft's own objections to the Google/Doubleclick deal are disingenuous.) Advertisers worry that Google can raise its prices on a whim and thus make customer acquisition suddenly more expensive, wiping out profits. There is already grumbling that Google's prices are rising too fast.
He goes on to comment on the irony in Google's pro-network neutrality stance (the idea that Internet access providers should have to guarantee carriage to any Internet content producer...like Google).
If Google grows more dominant in search and ad placement I could easily imagine advertisers and content-makers applying the same argument to it - to say Google is becoming an essential facility for commerce that must be required to make available affordable and even-handed access to its services for all comers. Google's done what it does better than the rest, and hasn't done anything wrong. Should it be allowed to keep on doing it?
If the telecom industry can't be trusted with our information, why should Google? Information, after all, is power. And Google has a ton of it.

Jason Lee Miller with WebProNews discusses the company's power and the potential for abuse:

Indeed, it seems only a matter of time before powerbrokers with vested interests begin leveraging. Cases in point: Google veep Tim Armstrong and his other company, Associated Content; Aaron Wall's detective work revealing Google Checkout's intimate relationship with GolfBalls.com.

And from the other side as well, as the big brands buy up high-ranking sites in order to appear multiple times in the top ten results.

Is Google too big for its own good?

(Google image by dannysullivan)