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 five-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.
The barbs 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 attempts to trump its rival with more compelling technology.
‘‘It’s always the underdog that does negative advertising like this, and there is no doubt that Microsoft is now the underdog,’’ said Jonathan Weber, who has been following Microsoft’s ‘‘Scroogled’’ campaign at search consulting firm LunaMetrics.
On the flip side, Google has evolved from an endearing Internet start-up to an imposing giant running Web and mobile services that vacuum intimate details about people’s lives.
At least one group, Consumer Watchdog, has complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Google’s apps practices represent an ‘‘egregious privacy violation.’’ Citing agency policy, FTC spokesman Jay Mayfield declined to comment on whether the complaint has triggered a formal investigation.
A decade ago, Microsoft was the world’s most powerful technology company, with its Windows operating system and Office productivity software pervasive on personal computers. Microsoft’s dominance had grown so extensive that US and European antitrust regulators spent years trying to rein in the software company.
Google now runs the world’s most watched online video service in YouTube, the largest e-mail service in Gmail, and the most widely used operating system for mobile devices in Android. All of those services provide more opportunities to show the ads that generate the bulk of Google’s revenue.