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The Google controversy

December 29th, 2006 by André Nogueira

As you may or may not be aware, there has been some controversy regarding Google’s tips on some search phrases.

Some see this as a good thing (it’s helping users), some as a bad thing (they’re using their position as a monopoly), and some really just don’t care (it’s their webpage, people see it’s not a search result, what’s the big deal?).

Personally, I think this is a bad thing – but one which I’ve seen coming for a long time. It’s not the tip per se. After all, most companies would do this anyway. It’s the fact that Google says they’re not like most companies.

Remember the lawsuit against Microsoft regarding IE7? They said Microsoft was using their monopolist position to increase usage of Windows Live Search – the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7. They said they “don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN on install”, that “users should choose” and that “companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services” – this despite the fact that it’s very easy to change the default IE search engine. (link)

Fast forward to this week, and we see that Google has done something as “bad” as what they said Microsoft did – if not worse. They are using the trust people have in them to advertise their own products. Unlike IE7, where competitors could easily add a link for users to change their default browser, here there is no way for Google’s competitors to create an ad like Google’s. A “tip” with a picture is very different from a link which is clearly marked as being “sponsored”.

As I said, I’d expect this from most companies. But not from a company whose PR department doesn’t get tired of saying “We’re not like most companies”. I see this not as a “meaningless tip”, but as a sign of what’s to come – Google betraying the trust people have in them.

And what do you think of this? Feel free to comment!

Posted in Computing, Daily Life, Rants, Reviews, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »


This entry was posted on Friday, December 29th, 2006 at 10:27 pm and is filed under Computing, Daily Life, Rants, Reviews, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


7 Responses

  1. Cloud02 Says:

    Yes Google is being a hypocrit when it comes to advertising of products, since they’re using their dominant position on web searches to get users to download, possibly buy, other of their products.
    But there isn’t much that can be done about it I believe. I highly doubt an anti-trust ruling can be put on Google since:
    a) It’s hard to measure completely how big their market share is.
    b) Very easy for users to use another search engine.

  2. Cloud02 : Misbruger Google sin troværdighed? Says:

    […] Indlægger har jeg oprindeligt skrevet til en anden side og er på engelsk, men jeg synes at det er tankevækkende, så jeg bringer det somen copy/paste her også: Is Google really misusing their trust? This is the question many tech savvy people has been asking themselves after Blake Ross, co-founder og FireFox, pointed out how Google is promoting their own products through a small "tip" bar that appears on certain keyword searches. Blake Ross points out that Google promises to be "unconventionally trustworthy" and linking to their Code of Conduct and a letter to the shareholders. Just three weeks ago people questioned the Google products that appeared on the adwords section in the right hand side of the search results. A Google employee in the marketing dívision quickly stepped in and said that Google follows the same the guidelines just like everyone else and there are no algorithms that ’smooth the way’ for Google’s ads. But it is kind of thought provoking that the adwords are like an auction, he who pays most per click, is at the top of the list – And Google is buying the auctionized adspace from … Google. Furthermore a Microsoft employee pointed out the hypocricy in Google's actions since they issued a lawsuit against Microsoft, because Microsoft used MSN search as the default search provider and Google feels that people should have the right to choose for themselves and they should should compete for users based on the quality of their search services instead of just bundling a software, in that case IE7, with a default search provider. One could ask how good Google's own products are since they have to promote them using these "tips", like how Blake Ross conveniently puts it: "either the company does not believe in its own search technology, or it does not believe its products are good enough to rise to the top organically" Just my thoughts on the whole subject. -Cloud02 […]

  3. Cloud’s Corner » Blog Archive » Misbruger Google sin troværdighed? Says:

    […] Furthermore a Microsoft employee pointed out the hypocricy in Google’s actions since they issued a lawsuit against Microsoft, because Microsoft used MSN search as the default search provider and Google feels that people should have the right to choose for themselves and they should should compete for users based on the quality of their search services instead of just bundling a software, in that case IE7, with a default search provider. One could ask how good Google’s own products are since they have to promote them using these “tips”, like how Blake Ross conveniently puts it: “either the company does not believe in its own search technology, or it does not believe its products are good enough to rise to the top organically” […]

  4. Andre Nogueira Says:

    Hi Cloud02,
    Thank you for the link to our blog! However, I’d like to point out that I’m not a Microsoft employee, just a beta tester. I do hope to work for them someday, though 🙂

    Thanks!

  5. Steven Says:

    If your are interested this is what I had to say on the matter 🙂

    http://www.winextra.com/?p=199

  6. André Nogueira Says:

    Hi Steven,

    Yes, I have pretty much the same opinion as you… I don’t think it’s surprising they do it, what I do think is surprising (or perhaps it isn’t, and it’s just PR) is that they’re doing it while they say they “do no evil”.

  7. kev.in » One of these days Says:

    […] It’ll be informative, thoughtful, witty, current; maybe a little snarky. It will have a hipster name and I’ll post fun and artsy pictures to it. I’ll contribute my own carefully considered commentary to the heated discussion du jour. It will be a place for me to wax philosophic about intellectual, political and technical matters that affect us all. It will be entertaining but also deep. I will have a hundred thousand readers. […]