By now, you have most likely either seen or heard about the NY Times article discussing Google’s recent complaint to the United States Justice Department (the same Justice Department Google recently sparred with in regards to handing over search data). The complaint focused on Microsoft making MSN the default search engine on the new IE 7 web browser.
In case you haven’t had a chance to read the NYT article, what Google is essentially asking the Justice Department to do is force Microsoft to make it easier for people using Internet Explorer 7 to choose a search function other than the default, MSN. As Marissa Mayer, the vice president for search products at Google states in the article, “The market favors open choice for search, and companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services.” She also explains, “We don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose.”
After reading this article, I found myself in a position I never expected to be in, siding with Microsoft. Now, before you draw and quarter me, let me explain. I am not saying I agree with the business practices Microsoft has implemented in the past to gain its market share, I am just saying that this once, I don’t agree with the argument against them.
What really solidified my stance was the McDonald’s I passed this morning on my way to work. As I looked at those Golden Arches, steering wheel in one hand and a granola bar in the other, I thought, “A croissanwich from Burger King would really hit the spot.” Unfortunately, I do not pass a single Burger King on my morning drive, so the dream of fluffy egg, cheese and savory sausage all housed in a buttery croissant quickly faded into the somewhat less satisfying reality of rolled oats in foil.
That’s when it hit me. If I apply the same logic to my morning hunger that Google uses in its complaint against Microsoft, I could just pull into that McDonald’s and order a BK sausage croissanwich. Because after all, why should McDonald’s have the right to deny me my croissanwich just because I walked into a restaurant they built, funded and spent millions promoting? After all, as a consumer, shouldn’t I expect to find exactly what I am looking for no matter what establishment I wander into?
If Google has a problem with the way Microsoft chooses to deliver its products to consumers, maybe instead of screaming “foul”, and complaining to regulatory organizations, Google should devote its time and effort to coming up with a solution. If Google wants to take market share away from Microsoft fine, but do it in the vein of true competition. Create an operating system that boasts better features and ease of use, an OS that users will inherently hunger for. Then, serve up Google as the default search engine. Problem solved.