Posted May 24, 2007 1:22 pm by with 11 comments

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Google Backlash The Independent Front Page

Every week it seems more people are criticizing Google, whether its inevitable given their meteoric rise or a real shift in the internal culture of the company is debatable, however I had thought the backlash was limited to people kicked off Adsense for spamming, privacy nuts and Ask advertising campaigns. This seems to have changed. The Independent has featured a first page splash calling out Google as ‘Orwellian’.

It’s not the most imaginative criticism, but front page story on a UK national newspaper is stinging criticism for Google. There argument goes than the huge popularity of the search engine, personalized search and even their recent investment in genome mapping 23andMe is an unprecedented step towards a Big Brother Society. To those of us who slavishly follow everything Google the argument is nothing new but it might be a worrying first indication of a changing attitude in the mainstream press to everyone’s favourite search engine. They still have an enviable mindshare of the most influential sections of society but if I were at google I’d be slightly worried, it wouldn’t take too many stories like this to start losing market share.

  • I’m with the “if you can’t beat them, join them” crowd. I spent so much time looking for software that would compare to Google free stuff and just gave up. And with the ability to add widgets to my Google homepage, I basically just load it to see how my business is going.
    In fact, I think Google will take its cache, build a huge satellite than has self-replicating servers and build its own internet not based in any country, but floating in space with its own protocol and everything.
    How’s that for a conspiracy theory?

  • Stephan- I wouldn’t give Google any more ideas than it already has 🙂

    But good stuff none-the-less. I think the feel about Google is definitely shifting. When something becomes the status quo, the tech community will shift away from you. Most techies don’t like to use what their mother is using. But as stephan said, can you find a better product online?

    It’s the same as off line. Can you find a better product than MS? Sure apple is funky and doesn’t crash and has great graphic design support. But is it really more universal than MS?

    It’ll be interesting how the next 3 years pan out.

  • I think the criticism is good, hopefully it will keep them honest!

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  • Matt

    Everybody saw this coming. While comparisons to Microsoft are obvious, the fact is that Google is not Microsoft in 2 very important ways – they do not have Bill Gates, which is to say that they do not have a guy who is going to run his company the way he wants no matter what the board or the shareholders say, and they were not primarily concerned with profit from day one.

    The internal shift in attitude towards a profit-first mentality is completely expected – this is new to them, and hopefully they will find a balance in the near future. They’d better. They are getting more difficult to deal with every day, not a good thing when they hold the existence of literally millions of businesses in their hands. Simple solutions to problems are being passed over for difficult ones that increase their revenues, and they are slower to respond to their customers than ever. And they have become more and more reluctant to rock the boat. Their announcement that they would start degrading the value of paid links was tentative, almost apologetic, when they have been telling people that they were already doing that for years. And they simply refuse to address other important issues that affect search rankings because they can no longer afford to piss off their paying customers – regardless of how this affects the end users. I have seen this from the inside at other high tech companies. Once the politicians and bean counters start to gain real power, it’s only a matter of time before they stop being a leaders in technology and start being followers in the market.

    I predict that Google will be mostly a memory within 10 years. A merged Microsoft/Yahoo with the commitment to do search right that MS has started to demonstrate and that Google has started to abandon is going to eat their lunch in the same way that MS did it to Lotus, Novell, WordPerfect, etc… better products, better marketing, and more focus on the long term.

  • By going public, Google has released the wheel that drives the machine to the tide of public perceptions and rumor. It is easy to sit on top with a smug attitude when the winds are pointing your way. However, let the tides of public influence turn against you and see what happens. The same public that made you untouchable can make you a memory with the blink of an eye.

  • Your probably right, there was a time when all the criticised firms where popular, Microsoft, Mcdonalds, Walmart etc.

    With comments like the one’s made in this interview doesn’t seem like they are trying to hard to qwell the fears of the critics…

  • Unfortunately the once loved search engine is heading down the same path Microsoft did – being seen as an uncaring, money grabbing monopoly. I really don’t think the folks at Google realize this in their zeal to dominate everything online. What’s really disturbing is that THIS monopoly knows more about you than you realize and is learning more every day. And, of course, driving dollars to their services like Adwords with transparent reasons like their war on paid text links just makes us even more suspicious. The public needs to know what they are getting into when they sign up for that Google account. I just hope the media covers it more.

  • There comes a point when a corporation gets big that it thinks “I have more or less monopolised this market, what next?”.

    The big G’s commitment to innovation and new ideas is what is driving the what next.

    Now, I know that having an uber database where you can find out what every single customer is doing is most likely the way that Google is going, so that they can make the most profit.

    Service comes through giving greater access to what people want, and it is this kind of service that is what they are giving-

    Information gathering tools to discover what people want, and advertising to sell it to people.

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