Google Selling Top Organic Spot?

I’m not sure if this can be filed under “lawsuits filed purely for publicity” quite yet, but apparently the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) is suing Google for selling the #1 organic spot in their search results. Now, either someone is confused, or the rest of the SEO industry is seriously getting gypped.

Let’s go with seriously confused: News.com.au states that the suit “alleges [that] Google does not do enough to differentiate ‘organic’ search results – those ranked by relevance – from sponsored links which appear at the top of the results page.”

For a laugh, read the rest of the story:

Trading Post chose the dealership names through AdWords, a Google commercial program that sets up hyperlinks.

Apple Salvages Reputation with iPhone Consolation

When Steve Jobs announced the $200 price reduction of the 2-month old iPhone, many of Apple’s early adopters cried foul. Having shown their loyalty to Apple by standing in line for hours–for a chance to be one of the first to buy the revolutionary phone–they now felt betrayed at such a quick and dramatic price drop.

Fortunately, the Apple CEO quickly sensed the swell of bitterness–growing among its loyal customers–and jumped in to offer a $100 Apple credit to those that had previously coughed up $599 for the iPhone. In addition, those that had purchased an iPhone in the past 2 weeks would get a $200 refund.

Pilgrim’s Picks, September 7

Sending you off into the weekend with a healthy dose of news!

Netscape, We Hardly Knew Ye

Netscape logoNetscape is backing off their “social experiment.” On the Netscape blog yesterday, they announced:

Visitors to Netscape.com will see a more traditional news experience very soon. Don’t worry, the social news site isn’t going away! We will keep you updated on where you will be able to find the social news site as we get closer to making the switch.

At first glance, this may seem like a giant step backwards into Web 1.0. However, the blog post claims:

We received some feedback that people really do associate the Netscape brand with providing mainstream news that is editorially controlled. In fact, we specifically heard that our users do have a desire for a social news experience, but simply didn’t expect to find it on Netscape.com.

Dept. of Justice Comes Down on Net Neutrality

Forget pipes—the Internet is all about postage and packages now. Just ask the U.S. Department of Justice. For some reason, they seem to think that the fact that the USPS “allows consumers to send packages with a variety of different delivery guarantees and speeds, from bulk mail to overnight delivery” means that the US government cannot legislate or enforce net neutrality.

The DoJ weighed in on the issue for the FCC, the body that is supposed to regulate television, telephone and related industries. Rumor has it, though, that the FCC’s governing board is deeply divided over net neutrality.

If you’re not familiar with net neutrality, the basic premise is that telecom companies want to charge more for accessing certain types or sources of content. The biggest specter raised anti-telecommers always seems to be telecoms creating a “two tiered” Internet, where users have to pay extra to visit search engines or watch video.

Will Google Buy Earthlink?

Earthlink says it wants to get out of the municipal WiFi business. Are executives really grooming the company to be sold?

CEO Rolla Huff joined in June, and he recently brought on Joe Wetzel as COO. Huff and Wetzel are the team that sold Mpower Communications, a regional provider of broadband data and voice services to business customers. Maybe they’ll shop the company around as soon as they cut the fat.

There might be one very easy mark: Google.

A combined company — call it GoogleLink, just for fun — could help the search giant extend its advertising into the mobile space with less muss and fuss than trying to build such a service from the ground up.

Yesterday, rumors abounded that the search giant was planning gPhone, its own mobile data/phone device.

Google Execs Talking about Video Ads

Thursday at the Citigroup Technology Conference in New York, Google Director of Product Management Sundar Pichai and Group Business Product Manager Nicholas Fox spoke about the possibility of image or video in the universal search interface—in the sponsored listings.

From MediaPost’s coverage:

Fox says integrating video or image ads into sponsored search results is an option that has come up in internal discussions, since search ads are there to give users information that is most relevant to their query. “In many cases that’s a text ad,” Fox says. “In some cases, it may be an image, a video, or something else. But the risk is not showing something garish or flashy, because users would become blind to the ads and it would hurt the business long-term.”