According to the Associated Press, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott has opened an investigation into Google’s search methods; this following last year’s antitrust probe into Google by the EU (European Union) as the result of two complaints from price comparison sites Ciao and Foundem (both companies are owned by Microsoft). The attorney general’s main concern is whether Google manipulates search results to the detriment of its competitors, which forces those competitors to pay more for advertising in order to achieve the same results that a non-competing entity could attain for less money. While Google denies any wrongdoing it does open up an interesting discussion about free trade and monopolies as they relate to the battle over search. Forgive my cynicism, but the two companies in Europe are owned by Microsoft and Gregg Abbott is a politician which puts my “there’s-probably-more-to-this” meter way in the red zone. I happen to like Google. I like their search engine, I like their email and documents applications and I even like their browser, Chrome. I happen to think that Google has done for the search business what Starbucks did for the coffee house business. I guess it’s really a matter of whether you actually like what Starbucks did to the coffee business. I drink Starbucks because I like it, it’s a good product, and it’s convenient. I’m not sure I like what they did to the coffee business because I also liked the eclectic feel of local coffee houses, albeit there was no consistency in terms of taste or quality. But then again, before Starbucks who knew the difference? The evolution of search looks a lot like the evolution of the coffee house. Just take a look at what happened to Ask Mr Jeeves, Overture, SavvySearch and Lycos. Who’s left out there? Google, Bing, AOL, and Yahoo and now with AOL currently using Google’s search engine and Yahoo just announcing they’re using Bing’s search there’s really two major search engines. So, when two companies owned by the search engine with 33% of the market are suing the search engine with 67% of the market and the attorney general for the state of Texas decides to conduct a probe, forgive me but I’m a little dubious. What are your thoughts?