U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers, that the company didn't even mention the probe in its earning press release, but rather dropped it as an afterthought into a routine SEC filing of its quarterly earnings. The revelation, found by astute media looking deeper into the company's filing, stoked headlines about Google "bracing" for a "big charge." Hah! For a company that raked in $6.5 billion in sales last quarter, a $500 million charge is a nothing. Google said as much in its filing: "we believe it will not have a material adverse effect on our business." Google also mentioned in the filing that it's being audited by the IRS and other tax authorities -- regulators owe some thanks to Bloomberg for pointing out back in October that "Google uses a complicated structure to send most of its overseas profits to tax havens, keeping its (overseas) corporate rate at a super-low 2.4%." Yawn. And then there's the Federal Trade Commission antitrust probe into Google's influence in the search market, revealed by Bloomberg last month. Another yawn. Remember the minor FTC flap over Buzz? Didn't think so. How about yesterday's Senate hearing on mobile privacy, where folks from Google and Apple ( AAPL) testified about what they do with consumer data they collect. Were you riveted to C-SPAN? Me either.
And don't think for a minute that Google and Apple are in cahoots just because they pretty much gave the same shrug. Google's pressing hard into Apple territory with its new music service even as it positions YouTube to take on Amazon and Netflix on the movie front. Remember, it is Google's stated mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Noble sounding purpose, but never forget that Google is in this to make money and minor scuffles with regulators and rivals are just a cost of doing business. None of this changes anything for Google investors. And for the most part, I don't get the impression that the globe's Googlers care much either. Perhaps TheStreet columnist Gary Weiss summed up the way a lot of people feel when he wrote in his column today: "I love Google! I love Apple! I love Big Brother!" I'm not saying that quote applies to me, I'm just saying that Google is pretty much deaf to all of this regulatory noise. As long as everyone keeps Googling, the company will keep on doing what it does - and making a ton of money in the process. --Written by Glenn Hall in New York.