Antitrust regulators from the European Union (EU) have once again launched an unnecessary investigation of US-based tech companies, this time focusing their attention on Oracle's in-progress purchase of Sun Microsystems. Though the deal easily passed antitrust muster in the United States, the EU says it has "serious concerns."
Of course it does.
"In the current economic context, all companies are looking for cost-effective IT solutions, and systems based on open-source software are increasingly emerging as viable alternatives to proprietary solutions," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. "The commission has to examine very carefully the effects on competition in Europe when the world's leading proprietary database company proposes to take over the world's leading open-source database company."
Kroes' comments refer to the fact that Oracle is a market leader in proprietary database technology, while Sun owns the open-source MySQL database product. Thanks to the investigation, the Oracle/Sun merger is now on hold for at least four months, during which time the EU will decide whether to ask for concessions.
Ironically, if the investigation leads to the EU asking Oracle to abandon MySQL, it could ultimately aid Microsoft, which is under attack from the EU for a variety of real and imagined offenses. Oracle and Microsoft both compete in the database market, and MySQL is seen as an up-and-coming competitor. Both Microsoft and SAP officially oppose the Oracle/Sun deal