Why Bash Innovative Google (GOOG)?

Let me get this straight. The communications boom is finally reviving the U.S. economy. There’s an incredible wave of startup activity and excitement around smartphones, mobile apps, broadband wireless. Jobs are being created, and the economy feels alive again. Sounds like a great time to be celebrating our success, doesn’t it?

Yet the Federal Trade Commission has apparently decided that it’s a good time to go after Google (GOOG), one of the key leaders of the communications revolution. And, oh yes, incidentally one of the most innovative companies in the world. Are these guys serious?

According to a front page story in the NYT this morning, “[f]ederal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court.” The story went on to say “the core question is whether power was abused.”

But when I look at Google, I see a company that has nourished the open-source Android platform, almost singlehandedly creating the only major competitor to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone ecosystem. I see a company that provides free services that a vast number of Americans use every day.

And I see that a company, frankly, that has helped make it cool for college students to be techie again, rather than simply gravitating to Wall Street and financial jobs.

I’m not defending all of Google’s actions, by any means. A company that innovative is always going to be stepping on hidden land mines–it’s unavoidable.

But innovation has been the major force driving the communications boom, and Google has been a major source of that innovation. The FTC should open its eyes to the big picture here and think macro, rather than micro. The Obama Administration should be encouraging innovative companies like Google, not attacking them.

About Michael Mandel 126 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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