SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is skewering Google again with ads and regulatory bashing that say as much about the dramatic shift in the technology industry's competitive landscape as they do about the animosity between the two rivals.
The ads that began Tuesday mark the third phase in a 5-month-old marketing campaign that Microsoft Corp. derisively calls "Scroogled." The ads, which have appeared online, on television and in print, depict Google as a duplicitous company more interested in increasing profits and power than protecting people's privacy and providing unbiased search results.
This time, Microsoft is vilifying Google Inc. for sharing some of the personal information that it gathers about people who buy applications designed to run on smartphones and tablet computers powered by Google's Android software. Earlier ads have ripped Google's long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads. Other ads attacked a recently introduced policy that requires retailers to pay to appear in the shopping section of Google's dominant search engine.
"We think we have a better alternative that doesn't do these kinds of nefarious things," said Greg Sullivan, Microsoft's senior manager for Windows Phone, the business taking aim at Google's distribution of personal information about buyers of Android apps.
As Microsoft attacked Google in the United States, a group led by Microsoft asked European authorities to investigate whether Google has been using its free Android operating system to stifle competition from other mobile services besides its own. One such rival is Microsoft's Windows Phone system.
The barbs on both sides of the Atlantic could backfire. Even as they help draw attention to Google practices that may prod some consumers to try different services, they also serve as a reminder of Microsoft's mostly futile — and costly — attempts to trump its rival with more compelling technology.