Is FairSearch.org Just A Bunch of Whiners?
Have you ever been in situation, be it business or personal, where you just got your butt kicked? A time when a competitor cleaned your clock and you walked away wounded because simply had your “you know what handed to you”? I suspect we all have if we are really in business.
How you respond in those situations are insights into your character.
1. Slither into a corner or put your tail between your legs to lick your wounds?
2. Accept the defeat, learn from it, go back to the drawing board and figure how to prevent it from happening again?
3. Whine to everybody that you lost because it “wasn’t fair”?
The best way to handle this is the second option with the first one being a very distant second if you couldn’t “nut up” and fight. The third option, the whiner option, is one that should never be used but unfortunately in the entitlement mindset we have in today’s world it is the go to for many players. Even big ones.
The latest example comes from the organization FairSearch.org. I’ll be honest, I have not paid much attention to this group but what they are up to and who is really behind it, just doesn’t seem right. Fortunately though we have a free market so they have a voice and that’s still a good thing whether I agree or not.
First, to be fair about FairSearch.org, let’s look at the group’s stated objective on their website.
FairSearch.org is a group of businesses and organizations united to promote a healthy Internet future, where economic growth is driven by competition, transparency and innovation in search verticals and online services. We believe in enforcement of existing laws to prevent dominant companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior and to protect investment and choice across the Internet ecosystem.
Translation: We don’t’ like Google and what they do.
OK, so you don’t like Google. That’s fine. You’re not alone. Now look at a partial member list:
This list is primarily travel related sites but notice the bookends. The perennial search also ran yet incredibly powerful company, Microsoft, and the poster child for using whining as your primary inbound marketing technique, Foundem.
So why point this out? Well, the group is pointing itself at Google and essentially trying to get any government that will listen (and for political reasons they all do) to try to build an anti-trust / monopoly argument against Google.
Why are they doing this? Because they are what I will call for this post “Option 3 players”. In other words, rather than standing up to fight and trying to do better than Google, they have chosen to whine about their poor, poor situation and they want a regulatory body to bring Google down a few pegs.
Their latest effort was released last Friday. Interestingly enough, I wouldn’t have even paid attention other than being alerted by a Google contact about the document and that Google had a response.
If you want to get a taste of where the group is coming from all you need to read is the following two paragraphs from the introduction.
While offering extraordinary opportunities, the scope of the Internet is also daunting for both users and web developers. There are currently more than 312 million websites and more appear every day. Internet users navigate this vast array of information through search engines – principally through a single dominant search engine: Google. Indeed, Americans “Google” so frequently and ubiquitously that the company’s name has virtually become a generic verb that means to search the Internet.
As a result Google has obtained unprecedented economic power over what users find, who is found, and what businesses must pay to be found on the Internet. More troubling, Google has used and continues to use this power to reinforce and expand its dominance through a pattern of exclusionary acts.
Wow. Personally, I use Google because it works and I haven’t found anything that currently works better.
The paper goes on in this “cry me a river” format for a while and essentially looks like a front for Microsoft to somehow make Google stub its big Internet toe on something to slow them down.
Google has responded with a post of its own which is formatted to take several points from the FairSearch argument and answer them. Here’s a sample.
Microsoft/FairSearch Claim: “A website‘s ability to compete depends largely on whether it appears on search results pages in response to users‘ queries and, more importantly, on where it appears within those results.”
Fact: We built Google search for consumers, not websites, and consumers don’t need Google to access the web. Google serves more like a GPS on the Internet highway—not an on-ramp. It helps people get around, but it’s not necessary. If someone knows where he wants to go, he can navigate to those destinations directly, whether it’s Craigslist, the New York Times websites, or icanhascheezburger.com. Search engines are popular and useful, but they’re just one of many ways to navigate the web. For example, according to Compete.com, NYTimes.com receives only 18% of its traffic from Google, while TMZ.com receives more traffic from Facebook than from Google, and Politico.com receives more traffic from the Drudge Report than Google.
Microsoft/FairSearch Claim: “As a result of its dominance in search and search advertising, Google can control where users go and what sites they find.”
Fact: Using Google is a choice, and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.
You get the drift. There are many more question and response entries on the post so check them out.
Of course, Microsoft has even bigger competitive worries from Google as more and more people realize that they use Google Docs pretty effectively thus avoiding buying Microsoft’s services. Oh there’s also that whole Chrome thing and much much more.
In the end though, I think it’s time to ask people that are actually at the receiving end of all of this how they feel. Do you, for instance, consider Google’s market dominance a hindrance to your business or your ability to get information from the Internet? Are you concerned that Google’s version of a better mousetrap is limiting your ability to compete in business or restrict you from finding information?
I realize this is a longer than usual post but I for one would just like to see the whining end and the serious competing to commence. I am more than willing to switch allegiances even if it creates some discomfort for me as long as I can see the benefit.
In fact, that is one reason why I am more seriously considering Google+ over Facebook. Ooops. Wait, I thought Facebook was invincible and no one could challenge their position in social media? Oh, that’s right, a different product with some attractive features came along to compete with them. I forgot that’s how business works.
If you went to the Microsoft School of Competition, however, rather than getting a textbook you are handed a diaper and a pacifier since all you would learn there is how to cry until you get what you want.