I have been watching from the fringes as people squabble over the new offering from Google “Search Plus Your World”. All I can see that has been accomplished is that the Internet industry press is starting to look less like reporters and more like advocates for whatever constituency they are trying to impress. The worst offender is Apple’s mouthpiece, MG Siegler, who is fully convinced that Apple represents heaven and Google represents the powers of hell and he will tell everyone about it over and over and over. Ridiculous but it is how this has played out.
What is really happening is that people are arguing whether Google and its search function should be allowed to operate in a free market sense or should it be “confiscated” by the government through regulation etc so that it can be fair. This is just ridiculous in a supposedly free market environment. For painfully obvious reasons (i.e his own income and influence), Siegler outlines how Apple avoids this mess without ever saying what is actually taking place. That is that, Apple produces a product that people can buy into of their own free will. There is a cost to get there and a barrier to entry. It is free market.
Google on the other hand provides a critical service that would make life a bit more difficult (although not impossible since there are competitors like Bing etc which people also like to conveniently forget) that is FREE to the end user (if they have Internet access, of course). There seems to be some confusion around this whole free thing. It really forces common sense and reason to the back seat. You see, everyone seems to be pushing for the government to do everything for them. That’s fine if you want to go there. I am not here to make a political argument. But just because something is free it doesn’t mean that EVERYONE owns it! This is a company’s product / service just like Apple’s iPhone but it is offered to the masses for free. There is only one way to “own” it; buy some freakin’ Google stock!
From a business perspective though, the government should not be involved in what Google has done here with Search Plus Your World. Not at all, but people like Siegler keep yelling into their megaphone that the government will be looking into the apparent injustice that Google is perpetrating on the unsuspecting world at large. His cries will get the attention of headline hungry politicians so it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nice work, MG. He even veils it in a conspiracy theory that this is part of some master plan to drag Facebook before the government before their IPO but I’m not buying that.
What is really happening is that the idea of the open Internet actually is impossible to achieve in a free market. Why? Because if it were truly open then the big players of Google, Twitter and Facebook would be openly sharing their data with each other because everyone benefits. Guess what? That idea is BS because the only reason that Facebook and Twitter are not being used as true social signals by Google (meaning all data is available to the likes of Google to give people social influenced search results) is money.
The guess is, Twitter wanted more than Google would pay for the access to the Twitter firehose so that went away. This happens in the free market. Companies have a right to pay what they feel is the fair amount for something and Google plus Twitter have made their positions clear so they are not doing business. Free market.
Facebook doesn’t share their info with Google but they do with Bing because of their choice to be in bed with Microsoft. Once again, free market. They made a choice in business relationships and as a result Google has limited access to Facebook information to formulate a social influence result set based on their data.
Really this is all a big joke. Why can’t we just get off the bandwagon that Google owes the world something? It gives the world something, it does it well and it is rewarded handsomely for a good service that is needed. It is doing it in a completely unique environment that we have no precedent for as well. If you asked the average guy on the street as to whether or not he gives a rip that Google makes a lot of money providing its service and if they think they should be limited in what they provide as a result, most would look at you cross-eyed and say “I could care less. I just want to search the Internet”.
Then ask that person about social signals and the vast majority of the world (which Silicon Valley doesn’t have a single clue about) would once again say they will take what they can get for free as long as it works well enough to help them do what they want to do. In other words, this whole argument is happening at a level that the public, the majority, isn’t even involved in.
This is a real funny thing that is going on here because the 1% are turning on their own! The average person cares about being able to search the Internet and get good information for free. They could care less about how much a company makes doing it. The people that “care” about this the most are the ones that will profit from it like Silicon Valley, the Siegler’s of the world, politicians and the like. It’s that simple.In the end this has nothing to do with something that is for the better good. It’s for the good of the 1%. Pretty ironic considering the usually liberal angle of the Internet set!
This argument gets very circular and tiresome very quickly so I will be quiet for now. I wish opportunists like Siegler would go on radio silence as well. Now that would be heaven. Guess what? Ain’t gonna happen.