The next chapter for Google will indeed likely include lots of antitrust dimensions, with or without a deep Yahoo! relationship.
“Google has thought very strategically about having to impact the market without necessarily spending a lot of money,” Mr. Yoffie said. “It pays to be clever.”
He saw the same strategy at work in the Microsoft-Yahoo deal. “They played spoiler by giving the Yahoo board confidence that they had a viable economic solution if they turned down the Microsoft offer,” Mr. Yoffie said.
As Google’s clout grows, the company may encounter the same antitrust scrutiny that hobbled Microsoft. Regulators in the United States and Europe investigated Google’s merger with DoubleClick for nearly a year before approving it. The Justice Department has already begun asking questions about the antitrust implications in the possible partnership between Google and Yahoo. Yet it was little more a year ago that Mr. Ballmer described Google as a one-trick pony in a speech to business school students at Google’s birthplace, Stanford.