The question, which has been asked most often in regard to Google's ability to innovate, takes on new significance amid reports that the Federal Trade Commission is on the cusp of launching a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into the Internet company.
Exactly two decades after the FTC launched an inquiry into
Microsoft's competitive practices, opening up a slew of regulatory actions, the Wall Street Journal
, citing unnamed sources, reports the FTC is now preparing to serve Google with subpoenas
and will probe whether the company has abused its dominance in the search market to unfairly promote its own services at the expense of rival offerings.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the reports.
There are notable similarities between Google today and Microsoft circa 1991, when the latter company found itself in regulators' cross-hairs. Both companies are enormous, highly profitable and indispensable for consumers -- and both have been accused of using their massive reach to choke off their competitors.