I think I nailed it at another site a few weeks ago.
Google is being left alone in the name of a free Internet. Whether Google is "evil" or not is less the question than the fact that Google, the Internet's most powerful player, is American.
What people fail to understand, still, is that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) represents the largest player in the Internet infrastructure space. It is a global version of what AT&T (NYSE:T) was 30 years ago. And it's not just subject to American law, it represents American values better than any government-run service could.
The FTC ruling upsets Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) but this is not about Microsoft. Microsoft made its mistake in lobbying U.S. policymakers, demanding that they do something about Google's monopoly on search, preventing it from expanding that monopoly into other areas.
That wasn't really the issue. The issue was whether the U.S. would have a strong, private company dominating the global Internet infrastructure, driving it forward, and driving America's values on the Internet forward. It's not about Google vs. Microsoft, but Google vs. Baidu, Google vs. Alibaba, and Google vs. whatever other local, national Internet company may rise up in the Arab world or in India or in Africa, anywhere America wants influence.
So what do we have? Google will stop abusing the patents it won from Motorola that are essential to standards. Google will open the application program interfaces, or APIs, to its AdWords platform. Google will let sites opt out of having extracts in its index, and let them limit themselves to headlines or page headers.
There are small wins here for European newspapers, who can now limit their ability to be found on Google News, and for Internet advertisers, who can now more effectively game Google's ad systems. There are small wins here for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which effectively neutered Google's patent attacks on its own gear, and for competitors who feared their sites would be lost under links to Google's competing offerings.
But these are concessions Google can easily give. The company knows it has maximized its advantages in vanilla search, and in Web advertising, and is now working in other areas - in selling cloud services and building its own computing platforms. They will not impact the bottom line at all.
If Microsoft is wondering why the FTC didn't go after Google the way the Department of Justice did it back in the day, the answer is simple. The FTC concluded that the Department of Justice was too successful against Microsoft, that its antitrust action caused Microsoft to bind itself up in layers of bureaucracy, lawyers and PR flacks constantly saying no, and that if we did that to Google America's interests in a free Internet would be irreparably harmed.
Google is essential to America's foreign policy in the 21st century. That's why it won.
Disclosure: I am long GOOG, MSFT, AAPL. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.