Google and the Two Continent Squish

March 31, 2011

My grandfather had a vice. He explained that I could put a piece of wood in the jaws and turn the lever. If I turned the lever too much, I would ruin the wood. If I turned the lever too little, the wood would slip. One had to adjust the jaws of the vice to hold the wood without damage. Easy to explain until I learned that different types of wood had different characteristics. The “just right” part took my seven year old hands some experimentation to get right.

Now the Google is a piece of wood. The vice consists of two jaw components.

One component is reported (accurately I presume) in “China Report Claims Google-Linked Firms Broke Tax Rules.” The headline conveys the substance of the news story. However, this sentence is somewhat interesting:

Even if the report is unfounded or embellished, it could bring fresh headaches in China for Google, which has gone through difficult times there since early last year when it quarreled with the one-party government over Internet censorship and hacking attacks.

The other jaw is “Adding our Voice to Concerns about Search in Europe.” Now the source is Microsoft, a company with some modest first-hand experience with allegations of monopolistic practices.

Google may not have its hands on the vice’s levers as I did. As a result, the force applied could leave Google with room to move, hold Google “just right”, or compress Google. If Google is in some way held tight or damaged, will Google be able to operate as it did prior to getting squished?

That’s an interesting question and one that warrants consideration once the present “jaws” complete their traversal. Companies have considerable power. However, countries and legal commissions have power and the ability to impose penalties, change the rules, and make pressure operate through time.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2011



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