Just saying, there are other options; whether we pursue them is a different story. Google's non-search activities (like Google Apps, Chromium, other Google Lab stuff) generally only make significant financial sense to the company in the context of their search business, so breaking up Google means those spinoff businesses would probably immediately go bankrupt.
What was really wrong with an AT&T that funded Bell Labs and created UNIX with government-mandated 5% or so of revenue to be spent on (free and open source) R&D like was the case with AT&T? As someone once said, Bell Labs was funded by people dropping dimes into boxes across the country. Telephone costs have changed in the USA since the breakup, *but* it is not really clear how much of that had to do with the "baby bells" and competition and how much had to do with Moore's law an an exponential reduction in computing costs per MIP that made packet switching (even in the home) so much cheaper.
"The End of AT&T: Ma Bell may be gone, but its innovations are everywhere"
"It's 1974. Platform shoes are the height of urban fashion. Disco is just getting into full stride. The Watergate scandal has paralyzed the U.S. government. The new Porsche 911 Turbo helps car lovers at the Paris motor show briefly forget the recent Arab oil embargo. And the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is far and away the largest corporation in the world.
AT&T's US $26 billion in revenues--the equivalent of $82 billion today--represents 1.4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The next-largest enterprise, sprawling General Motors Corp., is a third its size, dwarfed by AT&T's $75 billion in assets, more than 100 million customers, and nearly a million employees.
AT&T was a corporate Goliath that seemed as immutable as Gibraltar. And yet now, only 30 years later, the colossus is no more. Of the many events that contributed to the company's long decline, a crucial one took place in the autumn of that year. On 20 November 1974, the U.S. Department of Justice filed the antitrust suit that would end a decade later with the breakup of AT&T and its network, the Bell System, into seven regional carriers, the Baby Bells. AT&T retained its long-distance service, along with Bell Telephone Laboratories Inc., its legendary research arm, and the Western Electric Co., its manufacturing subsidiary. From that point on, the company had plenty of ups and downs. It started new businesses, spun off divisions, and acquired and sold companies. But in the end it succumbed. Now AT&T is gone.
Should we mourn the loss? The easy answer is no. Telephone providers abound nowadays. AT&T's services continue to exist and could be easily replaced if they didn't.
But that easy answer ignores AT&T's unparalleled history of research and innovation. During the company's heyday, from 1925 to the mid-1980s, Bell Labs brought us inventions and discoveries that changed the way we live and broadened our understanding of the universe. How many companies can make such a claim?
The oft-repeated list of Bell Labs innovations features many of the milestone developments of the 20th century, including the transistor, the laser, the solar cell, fiber optics, and satellite communications. Few doubt that AT&T's R&D machine was among the greatest ever. But few realize that its innovations, paradoxically, contributed to the downfall of its parent. And now, through a series of events during the past three decades, this remarkable R&D engine has run out of steam.
The funding came in large part from what was essentially a built-in "R&D tax" on telephone service. Every time we picked up the phone to place a long-distance call half a century ago, a few pennies of every dollar--a dollar worth far more than it is today--went to Bell Labs and Western Electric, much of it for long-term R&D on telecommunications improvements.
In 1974, for example, Bell Labs spent over $500 million on nonmilitary R&D, or about 2 percent of AT&T's gross revenues. Western Electric spent even more on its internal engineering and development operations. Thus, more than 4 cents of every dollar received by AT&T that year went to R&D at Bell Labs and Western Electric.
And it was worth every penny. This was mission-oriented R&D in an industrial context, with an eye toward practical applications and their eventual impact on the bottom line.
In this content, "search" (and a related constellation of applications) has become a public utility. So, just treat it like one. Facebook likewise could be treated that way. As could Microsoft.
In general, these sorts of market failures (given the rich market leaders tend to get richer and more market leading) show a fundamental problem with free market ideology in practice in the 21st century. It does not matter in the social/political consequences if Google might someday be replace in our attention by some next huge monopoly market spanning entity. The point is that this keeps happening with significant effects on out social and political fabric, and the company names just change.
In any case, if Moore's law continues for another couple decades, today's Google server farm's computational capability might fit on a laptop of the 2040s, which could also store all the surface internet content of today. At that point, with all the possible human cultural content you might want stored and searchable just inches from your brain, what would Google's business model be? So, in that sense, this political power issue may be self-limiting, although we will see new issues, as "the right to be forgotten" will take on new complexities on the order of asking the populace to forget about what it previously learned about someone...