Here’s something you can expect to hear more than a few times in the coming year: “We know that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google’s success.”
The latest utterance of what has become a stock line for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) when asked about its prospects for winning the desired outcome through a regulatory examination came today, on a company blog, explaining that the Federal Trade Commission has decided to take a closer look at the $750 million acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising network.
It is the same line Google has used to explain away government interest in its Book Search deal with authors and publishers. It has become a talking point. Sort of like when Google is asked about privacy, company officials will tell you that “customers are one click away” from leaving the site, so it has a very clear business case not to abuse their personal information. Or when asked about its role in the dwindling fortunes of the newspaper industry, executives will tell you that the company funnels hundreds of millions of visitors to their sites, each representing an opportunity to make money, and therefore a tremendous boon the publishers.
In the very simplest of terms, Google is right on all three counts. It does deliver newspapers’ sites oodles of traffic. If it wantonly abused people’s sensitive information, and it was discovered, the consumer backlash would be severe. And with growth, and seemingly unchecked ambition, heightened government scrutiny is a natural byproduct.