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Eric Schmidt: Google not ‘dominant’ in search; Apple’s Siri a ‘threat’

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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt fought back accusations by a group of federal lawmakers that the Internet giant is a monopoly, saying that Google is not “overwhelmingly dominant” in the online search market, and competes with the likes of Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft.

“I am confident that Google competes vigorously with a broad range of companies that go well beyond just Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo,” wrote Schmidt in a letter response to the Senate antitrust committee released late last week. The committee is investigating claims that Google has an unfair advantage in the online search market. Schmidt added that “Google has none of the characteristics that I associate with market power.”

Schmidt also said that it is possible for a startup to compete with Google in the search arena, despite its gargantuan head start.

“Google does not believe that scale is a barrier to entry. The Internet provides a level playing field for competition,” he said. “A lack of scale did not deter companies like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from starting, finding an audience, and achieving widespread prominence, recognition, and ultimately success.”

Google currently enjoys approximately 65.3 percent of all online searches, according to ComScore, up from 64.8 percent in August.

In addition, Schmidt downplayed the role of its Android operating system, saying that “Google does not have a dominant position in the smartphone market. According to ComScore, Android operates on only 34.1 percent while Apple’s iOS runs on 43.1 percent. Moreover, competition in the market for mobile software platforms is fierce.”

Schmidt also addressed the role of Apple’s new Siri voice-controlled artificial intelligence system in the iPhone 4S, saying that it was a “significant development” for the smartphone industry — “a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search,” he said. “Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information.”