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FTC circling the lawyers on Google-AdMob deal

Report indicates that FTC staff members have been asked to prepare to potentially challenge Google's proposed $750 million buy of mobile-ad company AdMob.

The Federal Trade Commission is inching closer to a decision on whether to challenge Google's pending acquisition of AdMob.

Staff members inside the regulatory group have been asked to start preparing for the possibility of action against Google, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. That doesn't mean they are necessarily planning to take action, but the move--coming weeks after reports that AdMob competitors were being asked to weigh in on the deal--shows that the FTC clearly hasn't decided against it, either.

Last year, Google agreed to pay $750 million for AdMob, a leading provider of mobile-advertising services for smartphones. It knew it was in for scrutiny before it announced the deal, releasing a "facts about Google's acquisition of AdMob" Web page the same day the deal was announced to rebut arguments that the deal would hurt competition by marrying the leading desktop-Web-advertising company with the leading mobile-Web-advertising company.

Of course, government scrutiny of Google is getting to be old news. The biggest issue on its plate at the moment is probably a European Commission inquiry into its business model, but the Google Books decision is still pending, and Microsoft has acknowledged raising questions about Google's activities before government regulators.