February 24th, 2009 | Published in Google Public Policy
Last month the European Commission confirmed that it had sent a statement of objections to Microsoft about the tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system, which it said "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." Then in a blog post earlier this month, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker weighed in, saying that "Microsoft's business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet."
We are applying to become a third party in the European Commission's proceeding. Here's why:
First, browsers are critical to the Internet -- they enable us to surf the web, search, chat, email, watch videos, or connect to our social networks. And because they are so central to every user's web experience, browsers are crucial to innovation online.
Second, Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers. Compare this to the mobile market, where Microsoft cannot tie Internet Explorer to a dominant operating system, and its browser therefore has a much lower usage. The value of competition for users (even in the limited form we see today) is clear: tabbed browsing, faster downloads, private browsing features, and more. Even greater competition will drive more innovation within browsers themselves - as well as in web design, enabling sites to load faster and offer new kinds of interactive tools and applications.
Finally, we believe that we can contribute to this debate. We learned a lot from launching our own Google Chrome browser last year and are hoping that Google's perspective will be useful as the European Commission evaluates remedies to improve the user experience and offer consumers real choices. Of course creating a remedy that helps solve one problem without creating other unintended consequences isn't easy - but the more voices there are in the conversation the greater the chances of success.
We don't know how the Commission's proceeding will evolve. But we are confident that more competition in this space will mean greater innovation on the web and a better user experience for people everywhere.