Google Gets a $22.5 Million Lesson
Google is said to have circumvented special computer codes known as "cookies" that are blocked by default to spy and collect data on Apple's iPad, iPhone and Mac users. Upon being contacted by the Wall Street Journal, Google subsequently halted the code and stated that it was unintentional and consumers were not harmed.
That did not stop the FTC from slapping Google with the largest fine against any individual company -- one Google has agreed to pay to put this issue behind it.
But it won't be that easy. It is also possible this issue has placed Google in breach of a previous consent decree reached last year and that now places the company "under review" for 20 years.
As embarrassing as this may be for Google, it serves to reinforce how fierce the competition is with Apple. What's more, it would appear that Google is now feeling intense pressure to mitigate what appears to be an Apple partnership with Facebook(FB) born of their mutual hatred of the search giant.
The result has been Apple integrating Facebook into its mobile IOS while dumping whatever it can of Google that presents it with any advantage, including Google Maps and, most recently, YouTube. Clearly, all-out warfare is underway between these rivals, and now it apparently includes espionage.
I wonder, can these three companies remain focused enough to remember that Microsoft(MSFT) and Amazon(AMZN) have mobile devices due to launch this fall? Both will benefit immensely by the distraction caused by this ongoing drama.
Though Google and Apple may be the dominant powers now, they should remember they will not remain dominant for long if they spend more money in legal fees than in R&D.
However, for Google, $22.5 million is a drop in the bucket for a company that has almost $50 billion in cash on its books. Also, it doesn't end there as the company faces potential European sanctions in relation to its privacy laws.