Siri a "competitive threat" says Google in antitrust downplay

Apple's Siri voice control system is a "significant development" and a "competitive threat" Google chairman Eric Schmidt has admitted, though the concession to the iPhone 4S feature may be more a strategic one than true admiration. Schmidt made the comments during a Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, questioned around Google's competitiveness and whether it was so large as to be subject to antitrust measures; the former CEO also claimed that Google is not, in fact, dominant in search, praised Microsoft's Bing, PCMag reports, and repeated denials that the company prioritizes its own products in search results.

The Google chairman had already been questioned by senators back in September, but faced a further round of supplementary questions from lawmakers yet to be convinced by the executive's answers. Back at his first appearance, Schmidt admitted that Google was in a monopoly "area" but insisted that the company was no Microsoft; however, he also faced vocal criticism from companies like Yelp who accuse the search giant of muscling out their results.

"Google does not have a dominant position in the smartphone market. According to comScore, Android operates on only 34.1 percent while Apple's iOS runs on 43.1 percent. Moreover, competition in the market for mobile software platforms is fierce" Eric Schmidt, chairman, Google [link added]

Speaking on Google's so-called search dominance, Schmidt credited hard work and good luck for the company's roughly 65-percent share of the search market. "Google competes vigorously with a broad range of companies that go well beyond just Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo" he claimed, before suggesting that the company "has none of the characteristics that I associate with market power." Bing took only "two short years" to reach the size Google was in 2007, he pointed out, while "Google does not believe that scale is a barrier to entry."

It's in Google's interest to downplay its own lofty position, of course. Rivals – including both smaller firms that feel slighted, and the company's bigger competitors such as Apple and Microsoft – would like to see the company legally hamstrung, similar to the impact antitrust rulings had on Microsoft a decade ago. Meanwhile, Google's own patent counsel has accused Microsoft of turning to aggressive patent licensing because its own products are underwhelming the market.