The Role of Switching Costs in Antitrust Analysis: A Comparison of Microsoft and Google

Aaron S. Edlin
Robert G. Harris
15 Yale J.L. & Tech. 169

Recently there has been a chorus of competition complaints asserting that Google's conduct and position today is parallel to Microsoft's position in the “Microsoft case,” the antitrust case brought by the Department of Justice in 1998. Any monopolization case against Google Search would have to be very different from the Microsoft browser case, because the cost for a user switching from Google Search is much lower than was the cost in the 1990s (or today) of switching away from the Microsoft operating system. It would likewise need to be different because Google has not attempted to manipulate the cost of a user switching away from Google Search, at least not to a significant degree. Low switching costs should and likely will have important implications for antitrust analysis of Google.