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Google As The Next Microsoft?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the yeah,-he-went-there dept.

Google 235

theodp writes "In this week's missive, Robert X. Cringely argues that Google is starting to look a bit like Microsoft. The search giant is learning too well from the master, says Cringely, noting that Google's launch of Goog-411 after taking a long look at investing in or acquiring Free411.com under an NDA is straight out of an old Microsoft playbook. Cringely goes on to note that Google has a problem with algorithmic optimization gone mad (seconded by Newsweek), which is wreaking havoc on some AdWords customers who may find themselves out of business before they can get Google to do the right thing. Cringely concedes that Google's inability to follow through because of IT failings may not have been learned from Microsoft — it may just be an inevitable part of having an IT monopoly."

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A monopoly? (5, Insightful)

cmorriss (471077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224855)

Google has anything but a monopoly. The search business can easily go to an engine that performs better. Google has most of the market share because they are quite simply the best at performing searches.

Microsoft on the other hand plays in a completely different arena. Switching from one OS to another is nearly impossible for many users and at least difficult for most.

No, Google has a long way to go before they become anything like Microsoft, no matter what their tactics may appear like.

Re:A monopoly? (-1, Redundant)

BlueCodeWarrior (638065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224869)

Also, Google can't really 'lock you in' like Windows can...if a better search engine appeared tomorrow, I could use it with absolutely no problems. If a new sweet OS came out tomorrow (or you wanted to switch to another existing one), you can't use lots of your expensive software on the new one.

Re:A monopoly? (3, Funny)

BlueCodeWarrior (638065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224919)

...and you already addressed this point. Excuse me, I can't read.

Re:A monopoly? (4, Funny)

BlueCodeWarrior (638065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225175)

Didn't know that I could flamebait myself... I wonder who would win in the resulting war?

Re:A monopoly? (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225987)

That would depend on the validity of arguments. Applies to both sides.

Re:A monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225995)

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Re:A monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225067)

Yeah and Google would have a tough time using their market share to force you to use google. You could switch to other search engines pretty easily.

If you tried to switch operating systems, you'd have a tough time using the same software.

Let me fix this for you. (1, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224903)

You said: Google has anything but a monopoly. The search business can easily go to an engine that performs better. Google has most of the market share because they are quite simply the best at performing searches.

You meant: Google has anything but a permanent monopoly, because monopolies don't naturally exist for a long period of time. The search business can easily go to an engine that performs better, or the whole idea of a search engine may go away when a new technological discovery replaces it with something even better. Google has the most market share because they are quite simply the best at performing searching, just like Microsoft has/had most of the market share because they are quite simply the best at offering OS users the compatibility and efficiency and reduced learning curve that they desire.

You said: Microsoft on the other hand plays in a completely different arena. Switching from one OS to another is nearly impossible for many users and at least difficult for most.

You meant: Microsoft on the other hand plays in a completely different arena, one that is quickly going the way of the do-do. Switching from one OS to another is nearly impossible for many users and at least difficult for most, only because the people who spend time pretending that Microsoft has a temporary monopoly have forgotten about IBM, Compaq, Ford, and all the previous monopoly fears that were destroyed by competition. In reality, the future of the OS has Microsoft greatly scared of what likely will be a return to a client-server environment, the same environment that Microsoft temporarily destroyed because people wanted power on the desktop, and now they want power in an interactive environment.

There are no monopolies in the long run, regardless of how slow government is to react when one company actually gains customers because they are far and away the best of the competition pile. Microsoft will be like IBM -- quiet, weak, and still holding enough of a market share to hang on. The desktop is toast, and when you have a company like Microsoft that only knows about the desktop, they'll wither along with the old platform. Give it time, and the entire sphere of influence will return to its roots in shared resources. All we need is the bandwidth.

Re:Let me fix this for you. (2, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225141)

Your timeframe is different than mine.

If Apple's marketshare doubled every year, they would take 5 years before becoming the dominant OS. That's a long time. It may not be for you, but for businesses it is.

Re:Let me fix this for you. (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225185)

Do you really want all your data in "shared resources"?

Re:Let me fix this for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225191)

That is the most runaround argument I've ever read... Did you have a stroke?
Most of us like to consider the CURRENT situation, not your opinion about monopolies 20 years from now.

Re:Let me fix this for you. (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225333)

Nah, I think his original statement more accurately conveyed what he meant.

Re:Let me fix this for you. (5, Insightful)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225393)

because monopolies don't naturally exist for a long period of time
Why do we have anti-monopoly laws again? Oh right, the market doesn't fix everything.

just like Microsoft has/had most of the market share because they are quite simply the best at offering OS users the compatibility and efficiency and reduced learning curve that they desire
Reality distortion field detected...

one that is quickly going the way of the do-do
Wishful thinking.

only because the people who spend time pretending that Microsoft has a temporary monopoly have forgotten about IBM, Compaq, Ford, and all the previous monopoly fears that were destroyed by competition. In reality, the future of the OS has Microsoft greatly scared of what likely will be a return to a client-server environment, the same environment that Microsoft temporarily destroyed because people wanted power on the desktop, and now they want power in an interactive environment.
Who the hell forgot? WTF is your definition of temporary, and why should consumers suffer THAT long? You're confusing the definition of a monopoly with 'people abusing monopolies.'
Fuck, that's like saying slavery was a temporary social imbalance, but "the market works" so we should have waited until slavery was 'naturally' socially unacceptable, or nobody needed cotton & tobacco anymore.
Lets just overlook the whole damned problem because in time it will iron itself out? Fuck you.

Abusive monopolies deserve to be cut to pieces, PERIOD.

There are no monopolies in the long run, regardless of how slow government is to react
OK, listen. Monopolies aren't the problem. It's when a monopoly BECOMES a problem, that WE have a problem.

Give it time, and the entire sphere of influence will return to its roots in shared resources. All we need is the bandwidth.
Jesus, some companies might not WANT that to ever happen, ya think? You don't suppose they might use the power they have TODAY to restrict where the market goes in the FUTURE? We'll be waiting until they either give up, or technological progress changes the market place. Just pray to God a monopoly doesn't get big enough to be able to stifle innovation too, or we'll never get there. Oh, ohhh shit, that's what happened. Just bend over while Microsoft figures out what the future of your OS will be and hope a competitor decides to go for market share instead of high margins.

Re:Let me fix this for you. (1)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225585)

Hmm, moderation is quite poor on Slashdot lately. Whether I agree with what you said is taking priority over how well expressed or argued your opinion is.

Re:A monopoly? (3, Interesting)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224907)

Well, Google isn't just a search engine anymore. Yes it's their core business, but they're definately branching out into other areas. It is perhaps arguable that they're developing into a monopoly for online advertising.

Re:A monopoly? (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225081)

Most large companies diversify. That doesn't make you a monopoly, nor does the size of a company make you a monopoly.

A monopoly means you completely own a set market.

Microsoft isn't a monopoly because they have so many divisions of their business. They are a monopoly because their OS completely dominates the market, and because they practice illegal tactics to ensure it does.

Google doesn't even dominate the search or advertising markets.

Re:A monopoly? (2, Insightful)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225299)

[Microsoft is] a monopoly because their OS completely dominates the market, and because they practice illegal tactics to ensure it does.

That's not the case. A monopoly can exist because a particular government explicitly hands control of a certain market to one company. A monopoly can exist within the law.

Re:A monopoly? (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225363)

There are multiple definitions of a monopoly, so I was trying to cover both bases. There are natural monopolies, which aren't "monopolies" in regards to anti-trust laws. I think most people see the word monopoly in the evil, illegal sense. Microsoft is a monopoly in the illegal, anti-trust sense because they violate anti-trust laws and act in an anti-competitive manner. However, the base definition of the word outside legal circles doesn't care about legality.

Re:A monopoly? (1)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225515)

Microsoft is a monopoly because Judge Thomas Jackson determined them to be so in the US v. Microsoft Findings of Fact. No more definition is needed.

Re:A monopoly? (3, Informative)

worst (867607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224943)

Google has anything but a monopoly.

They have a much stronger hold on the advertising market, where the product is not search but AdWords. Customers are businesses, not people looking for information.

If > 50% of your business comes from AdWords, switching away from it might be the end of your company...

Re:A monopoly? (2, Insightful)

cmorriss (471077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225001)

They have a much stronger hold on the advertising market

Google's hold on the advertising market lasts only as long as they bring hordes of searchers to the companies that advertise. As far as I know, Google is not the only company that provides an AdWords form of income. If the number of searchers drop to a certain level, they will simply switch to whichever search engine takes over.

Again, none of this is as difficult as getting everyday users to switch to a new OS.

Re:A monopoly? (0, Troll)

KBAegis (961391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224989)

What?? I'm sorry, I couldn't read that through the great firewall.

Re:A monopoly? (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224997)

How many times a day you search for something in google? Can you use other search engine and stop using google?

How many urchin cookies you have in your browser?

Google is *NOT* a search company ... (4, Informative)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225255)

Google is *NOT* a search company, they are an advertising company. In particular a targeted advertising company. Everything they do - search, maps, email, etc - is just a means to collect data on you in order to build a profile. That profile is then used to enable clients to provide you with a targeted ad when you visit the client's website.

In targeted online advertising, and perhaps online advertising in general, Google is the 800 pound Gorilla. They are not quite Microsoft yet, but they are not that far off in online advertising. They are still consolidating, they are on a curve like Microsoft's, just at a far earlier stage.

Advertising (-1, Redundant)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225265)

Google is an advertising company, no a web search company.

Re:A monopoly? (2, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225401)

Google has anything but a monopoly. The search business can easily go to an engine that performs better. Google has most of the market share because they are quite simply the best at performing searches.

Microsoft on the other hand plays in a completely different arena. Switching from one OS to another is nearly impossible for many users and at least difficult for most.


A good point. However, I would argue that as Google (or Yahoo or MS) users employ more and more web services, it becomes harder to separate oneself from their respective search tools. Gmail has a Google search box right at the top; Yahoo Mail has one for their engine as well. Neither can be rigged to search the other's web database, and it's usually impractical to have more than one primary email.

Likewise, it's relatively easy (if time-consuming) to pop in a CD-ROM and crossgrade one's OS from Windows to Ubuntu or vice versa, and not much harder to install both on the same computer. But one or the other has to be the primary OS, and the more Windows software you use to do your job or to play games, the less incentive there is to switch over just for web browsing.

Re:A monopoly? (2, Interesting)

VorpalEdge (967279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225583)

No, everybody uses Google because everyone else says Google is the best at performing searches. There is a difference.

Monopoly? (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224901)

...it may just be an inevitable part of having an IT monopoly.
Google can't be considered a monopoly in anything. They got to their position in the search market as they offered a significantly better search product than what was offer at the time (and is still one of the best even though others are catching up). However the other search companies still have reasonable market share, but people often go to Google out of choice (IE users see Windows Live search by default but many choose not to use it - the more it improves the more people will stay with it).

Google is getting powerful, but I can't see it dominating any area to an extent where it can lock people in. There's competitors in every area that Google operates. The benefit of the web as a platform is it's easier to switch both your underlying OS and the web apps that you use.

Re:Monopoly? (5, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224977)

It doesn't matter how they got to their position in the search market. They can still be a monopoly in their current market position. There is no underlying requirement that one has to attain a monopoly in a bad way for it to be a monopoly. Further, it is irrelevant whether people use Google by choice or not. You're automatically coupling 'monopoly' with 'bad thing that only a bad company could do.'

Whether Google is a monopoly or not is up for discussion. But you're being blind to what it means and how a company gets to that position.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225367)

It doesn't matter how they got to their position in the search market. They can still be a monopoly in their current market position. There is no underlying requirement that one has to attain a monopoly in a bad way for it to be a monopoly. Further, it is irrelevant whether people use Google by choice or not. You're automatically coupling 'monopoly' with 'bad thing that only a bad company could do.'

Whether Google is a monopoly or not is up for discussion. But you're being blind to what it means and how a company gets to that position.
I'd consider it a monopoly is the average person would not be aware of the existence of alternatives such as Windows Live (MSN) and Yahoo. People often get the alternatives handed to them in such a way that they have to actively choose an alternative if they prefer it. MSN/Live is default on IE, many apps bundle the Yahoo toolbar, Ask.com have been advertising on the London Underground, etc. Whereas for PC's for many years the only feasible option for those buying pre-build machines was Windows and that is almost still the case today with a small number now offering Linux. Even in many places that offered the Mac as the alternative they were always significantly more expensive and were often hidden in a corner. Things are changing and alternatives are slowly hitting the mainstream, but many people have got effectively locked in over the years either with dependency on certain software or fear of the unknown. With search engines things are easier, no UI changes to learn, you just need to either change your homepage or search box prefs or get used to typing a different URL.

Re:Monopoly? (-1, Troll)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225059)

>I can't see it dominating any area to an extent where it can lock people in.

Gmail - Try moving you email

iGoogle - Default home page, I didn't ask for it but just went to it once to see what it was. I find moving OS is easier than home pages due to the manual input needed for customization.

AdSense/AdWords- Once your business is dependent on it, you are locked in.

Google Calender

Blogger

Orkut/Dodgeball

I find it hard to believe people can make a case that MS is/was a monopoly and Google is not or is not going down the same path.

Re:Monopoly? (4, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225101)

Hotmail - try moving your email. You can easily forward your Gmail, and now they are opening up POP and IMAP support, which in turn is freeing you from the ads and web-based service, while still providing you the mail for free.

iGoogle - you suggest migrating an OS is easier that a portal? There are tons of portal pages, and they all support rss feeds. Now you're just trolling. Migrating an OS is no easy task. Changing your home page takes all of 30 seconds.

AdSense - There are alternatives to put ads on your page. Google doesn't even dominate the web advertising market.

Calender - Doesn't Google Calendar use the iCal standard, and can't it easily be imported into other programs?

You are either trolling, or have no clue what you're talking about.

Re:Monopoly? (0, Troll)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225341)

>you suggest migrating an OS is easier that a portal?

Actually yes I am.

I switch between various MS and Linux OS over the years that its pretty simple for me now. Backup personal files/bookmarks, reformat, search for similar/the best program for the task on that OS (clicks on a browser) -> done. Linux makes it easier since most of these programs are already installed with the OS.

The portal page is different; Example I track about 100 stocks from 3 exchanges, that's manual input. Another example; I have to figure out which cookie/url-that-gets-blocked I need to let in. I've done it a couple of times and its a pain.

As for the other stuff; if you are going to say that IE had a monopoly when it was easy to install Netscape/Opera/Mozilla, then Google has a lock on each one of those things.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225421)

Inputting 100 RSS feeds can still probably be done in an hour or two.

Migrating an OS means backup in files, download the new OS, format, partition, install the OS, configure the OS, install software, restore backups, etc.

Not only is it considerably more complex, it isn't something you can do in an hour or so.

Changing an OS means a full learning curve. A portal is a portal. There is zero learning curve.

Furthermore, each OS is different. No OS fully and completely provides what another OS does, so switching an OS often means making compromises, and changing the routine, and changing apps. However any portal can take in any RSS feed manually. You don't have to compromise, or lose what you already have. Your original point is that Google is evil for forcing you to be locked into their product, when there isn't anything you're locked into.

However, lets say you do video editing in Final Cut Pro on an Apple, and someone tries to force you to migrate to Linux. Where is your Final Cut Pro on Linux? Migrating your OS for most people is quite the hassle, and often can completely fail to replicate what you have that already works.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225745)

The portal page is different; Example I track about 100 stocks from 3 exchanges, that's manual input. Another example; I have to figure out which cookie/url-that-gets-blocked I need to let in. I've done it a couple of times and its a pain.

Your examples of monopoly apply no matter which portal you switch to. If you switch away from Google and never use them again, you'd still run into the same problems. I think Google even makes it easier to switch away, by e.g. offering the ability to download your e-mail and blog archive.

I think the proper solution to address your problems is that you shouldn't be using portals.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225139)

Gmail - Try moving you email
Sure. Free forwarding, POP and IMAP access. Easy.

iGoogle - Default home page, I didn't ask for it but just went to it once to see what it was. I find moving OS is easier than home pages due to the manual input needed for customization.
... and I stopped reading here. Changing OS easier than changing a homepage? Are you crazy?

Re:Monopoly? (0, Redundant)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225283)

Google is not a seach company, it's an advertising company. It's really weird that this fact doesn't stick in people minds.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225439)

Google is not a seach company, it's an advertising company. It's really weird that this fact doesn't stick in people minds.
Yes, that's how they make money but they started off as a search engine, the ads followed later. It was good that they never took the seemingly easier option and just stick banners on their page.

Ads (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225731)

"they started off as a search engine, the ads followed later"

I do not know for sure, but that was probably the plan all along.

Re:Monopoly? (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225547)

Google is not a seach company, it's an advertising company. It's really weird that this fact doesn't stick in people minds.

That's like saying CBS is an advertising company, not a television company, or the the NYT is an advertising company, not a newspaper company. Yes, they make most (or in Google's case, nearly all) of their money off ads, but the reason people buy ads with them is because of the number of people who pay attention to their core product, which in Google's case is still search. There are a million crappy ad sites out there on the web, but none of them make the kind of money Google does, for the very simple reason that nobody has any reason other than the ads to go to those sites.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225843)

Not true. While a good chunk of their revenue may come from advertisements directly on their own website, another portion of their revenue comes from advertisements on third party websites (see percentage of revenues on their financial statements [google.com] ). In this case, Google is providing the service for bridging advertisers to a network of content owners. There is no other Google service between the two other than adwords/adsense. This revenue comprises more than a third of their revenue.

Additionally, I do not think you can claim that Google's revenues would be as successful without their adsense technology used on their own pages.

You really have to have participated in adwords/adsense to see what Google is really all about. Google is basically king of online advertising these days.

Re:Monopoly? (2)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225507)

Just purely as Devil's advocate here, there are some parallels with Microsoft though.

They got to their position in the search market as they offered a significantly better search product than what was offer at the time (and is still one of the best even though others are catching up)

This could be argued about MSDOS and Windows too, for many it was the best product available.

However the other search companies still have reasonable market share, but people often go to Google out of choice (IE users see Windows Live search by default but many choose not to use it - the more it improves the more people will stay with it).

And Firefox uses Google.

Lastly though, Google like Windows has become synonymous with its market area - people say "Google It" when they mean "search for it".

Of course you are right that its easier to change search engine than it is to change OS, however Google is sitting where MS was as desktops were gaining main stream popularity and processor power was increasing exponentially, if we are about to see a move towards web based applications.

Fuckin A, Brother (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21224935)

I upgraded a minor search term and Google forced me to reactivate!

A recent search caused a bluescreen of links.

And they removed most of the promised features of Google 2.0, making it a useless upgrade. I'm waiting for Google 3.1.

Re:Fuckin A, Brother (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225035)

What's worse, google comes preinstalled!!!

Re:Fuckin A, Brother (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225083)

The horrible thing is, that is the truth. Google is preinstalled on dells and firefox.

i wouldn't have said it, if it weren't true! (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225129)

Even if you avoid firefox and dells, google.com is still there.
Try it with IE!
They somehow bypass the IE security, but eventually Microsoft will solve this problem.

Re:Fuckin A, Brother (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225229)

reminds me of consumers asking if the computer they are interested in buying comes with "the internet"
It's like asking if the car you are interested in comes with acceleration.

Re:Fuckin A, Brother (1)

Chris Chiasson (908287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225705)

Wouldn't it be more like asking if the car comes with the road?

FUD (3, Informative)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224951)

The founders of Google, when asked to comment about the rapid growth, actually stated, that they were unhappy with the control slipping out of their hands.
Also based on experiences of my friends being recruited to google, I must admit, it's a nightmarish process and HR staff is nowhere near the excellence of the engineers working there.

But I'd still say that comparison of Google and Microsoft is pointless beyond their sheer size.
M$ has been growing with finance in mind, asking for money where no one used to ask for it before (think software licenses, you pay for XBOX, the games and an account and in the corporate world the fees are even higher).
Google on the other hand tends to provide free service for things that used to be costly (email, data mining) and only asking money for the premium services.

So any comparison between the two is pointless.

Re:FUD (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225147)

Both companies sell products and give away services/products for free.

Examples of free things; Search, web email, home pages.

Examples of services for sale; advertisements, apps (Google Apps Premier Edition costs $), Search engines (Google's custom search engine for business costs $)

>Google on the other hand tends to provide free service for things

In 2006 they sold a little over $10 billion dollars in advertisements. All those free things are paid via this and their IPO.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225657)

All Google programs have a free edition.

Where is my Windows XP Free?

Or my Office Free?

Re:FUD (1)

0xC0FFEE (763100) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225253)

Also based on experiences of my friends being recruited to google, I must admit, it's a nightmarish process and HR staff is nowhere near the excellence of the engineers working there.

HR is equally bad in the whole corporate world. I'm guessing it's not an easy problem. How do you measure HR performance? How do you compare the value of two recruiter against each other? It's certainly possible, but it's probably not done right now.

Anyway, it doesn't matter since you will likely meet HR only once during your whole employment lifetime at a given company. If you're a technical person, just show that you're moderately sane, don't wear a suit for the interview process and be prepared to answer real-world question like what is the most useful body part of your favorite pet and how the uncanny analytical skills you displayed in the previous question will help the company. Actually, HR only is useful when things go sour. Your best chance to get hired in the corporate world is to meet directly with the engineering staff at conferences/meetings and impress them since they will ultimately make the hiring decision.

Re:FUD (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225927)

The founders of any company naturally want to maintain their control over where the company goes. That usually does not happen when you go public or when you are under venture capitalists because you (the founders) usually do not own the company. Instead, the investors own the company and they ultimately determine what you should do regardless of if you're a monopoly or not. So in one sense, the article is wrong that it is Google's CEO's fault. The CEO has limited power that is restricted by the actually company owner's restrictions.

But I'd still say that comparison of Google and Microsoft is pointless beyond their sheer size.

Don't compare on size, compare on market segments and business habbits. Has Google bought out significant competitors? Yes, see doubleclick and youtube. Who is the top online advertising agency today? Google.

Google on the other hand tends to provide free service for things that used to be costly (email, data mining) and only asking money for the premium services.

There is no "premium" service in Google. The only service they make money from is adwords/adsense. See their financials and notice that 99% of their revenue is from the adwords/adsense program and nothing else.

They aren't even close (5, Insightful)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224957)

Here are the things Google are missing to become like Microsoft:
1. Screwing customers
2. Forcing bad products on their customers
3. Participating in anticompetitive behaviour
4. Having a monopoly
5. Bribing their way through standardisation processes
6. Giving away pay-software to create vendor lock-in
7. Produce horrible DRM that only affects those who actually pay
8. Have a chair-throwing jackass as CEO

Re:They aren't even close (4, Informative)

pavera (320634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225173)

I would have to disagree with at least points 1 and 2, and with the free411 case probably 3 as well.

1) I personally know 3 businesses that are out of business because of adwords shenanigans which Google to this day denies. These businesses saw their adwords budgets increase by orders of magnitude, and click throughs and sales plummet by orders of magnitude.

They went from using $1-2 thousand per week, to suddenly $2000 would get spent in 10 minutes between the hours of 1 and 2am. Google stone walled, denied, and finally did nothing for these small companies. I'm sure they aren't the only ones.

2) They are "forcing" adwords customers to have their ads listed on "link sites". that is a bad product, and if you are on adwords you are FORCED to have your ads listed there as there is no way to opt out

3) by pulling the ultimate MS move with free411 they are most certainly participating in anticompetitive behavior.

Re:They aren't even close (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225347)

1) I personally know 3 businesses that are out of business because of adwords shenanigans which Google to this day denies...

2) They are "forcing" adwords customers to have their ads listed on "link sites"...


I don't get it. Google killed businesses that advertised using google? If that were true, it'd just be dumb, not evil. You don't kill folks who are paying you to advertise through them - maybe unless they are advertising a competing product. And if you are paying someone to advertise a competing product, I'm thinking you get what you deserve.

If I'm missing something, please explain what - I'm really not up on this stuff.

3) by pulling the ultimate MS move with free411 they are most certainly participating in anticompetitive behavior.

This does sound like a rough (as in not friendly) business decision. But if they wanted to move into that space, and free411 didn't look like the company/technology/price they wanted, what are their choices?

Re:They aren't even close (2, Interesting)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225513)

They went from using $1-2 thousand per week, to suddenly $2000 would get spent in 10 minutes between the hours of 1 and 2am. Google stone walled, denied, and finally did nothing for these small companies. I'm sure they aren't the only ones.
When you set up an Adwords account you set your budgets, you can set a daily budget on each of your campaigns and a total monthly budget. You can also set the times you want your ad campaigns to run. If somehow they got billed $2k in one day it's their fault for not setting sensible daily limits. These options are not hidden, they're asked by default when you set up a campaign.

Re:They aren't even close (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225675)

personally know 3 businesses that are out of business because of adwords shenanigans which Google to this day denies.
Sounds like they had a bad business model. The day you become 100% on anyone to supply your business means that any shifts in that supplier mean shifts in business. This is especially true in the search arena where small changes in the algorithm can produce dramatic results.

No-one has a right to be seen. No-one has a right to a successful business model, only the opportunity to have one.

Re:They aren't even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225893)

Businesses that see their keywords get expensive are just bidding against other businesses though. Google doesn't actually set the prices. So if your competitors are willing to bid more than you for a click, make sure you make more profit per click than they do, or they'll out-perform you in the market. If they are making less profit per click but have more money to spend, you're also unlucky; they just have to bear the pain until you give up. The best thing to do, is choose better or at least less contested keywords. For example instead of one strongly contested phrase, choose three related but less-contested phrases. Often the solution is to think not about what you are selling, but what your potential customers may be searching for.

Simply put: Corps spread Google FUD (4, Interesting)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225201)

When the hell did we start trusting companies that purposefully screw us to the 10th degree and try to hide it more than we trust a company that is very open about what they do and go to extreme efforts to make the public happy? Google is, in no way, shape, or form evil. What's happened is, many of the major corporations are saying "oh shit, people are going to start expecting google-like service from us and that's really going to screw up our bottom line". In fact, I feel like there are funded, multi-corporation, organized, Google-FUD campaigns out there that put all this garbage into people's heads.

A company that has rendered my computer useless many times because of a false WGA positive? That's evil. A company that injects false TCP flags into sessions to "shape" bandwidth? That's evil. A company that renders a 600 dollar phone useless because I installed a 3rd party program? That's evil.

In fact, the only thing I can recall that google has done ever even remotely evil is a censored version of google search in China. That was a VERY calculated move and they were very open about the decision. Google has actually expressed regret for not standing up for what is right. But this PALES in comparison to the crap other US companies have pulled in China. This includes border-line slave labor and the turning over of information that has led to the death of many innocent people. On the evilness scale, what google did in China was like a .0005 compared to the things other US companies do. Yet we somehow turn a blind eye to them and get up in arms about Google?

Google trying not to be evil (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225375)

On the evilness scale, what google did in China was like a .0005 compared to the things other US companies do. Yet we somehow turn a blind eye to them and get up in arms about Google?

Their "We are not Evil" slogan challenges us to judge them by a higher standard. This is a good thing. Yes, they will fall short. Falling short of a high standard is better than falling short of a low down dirty standar But judging Google by the higher standard they have set for themselves is essential to keeping them accountable, and thereby helps them get closer to that high standard.

Maintaining high ethical standards in the midst of non-stop difficult and tricky multi-billion dollar decisions is *very* hard. IMO, this is why so many more television preachers end up corrupt compared to radio, print, or pulpit.

It's not enough to not intend evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21224959)

Google has to actively work to be good. Otherwise the sheer size of the operation will prevent them from stopping evil-creep before it's too late.

Not even a close comparison (3, Interesting)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224965)

Google operates by simply focusing on being the best at what they offer. But they do not force vendor lockin, nor threaten or crush the competition. Infact, several of their strategic moves almost seem to encourage competitors. While yes, they do offer you a one-stop-shop in many ways, but they are not the only ones either. Yahoo, Ask, and even Microsoft all stand there, and Google knows this. But rather than pulling a Microsoft, and bullying themselves into dominance, Google consistantly strives to better itself, to win out by simply being the best at what it is.

Monopoly does not equil to google (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21224969)

Google doesn't have a monopoly or an abusive monopoly like Microsoft has. Google has some web based software (Maps, Docs, etc.) and some installable software (desktop and toolbar) but they are far from having a monopoly, particularly an abusive MS-Like monopoly. The reason Google got ahead is because they had one of the first "clean layouts" that means no banner ads, no flash, nothing that screams "You have won a free iPod Nano" and its fast to load. MSN, Yahoo, And MS-Live all lack that. Sure Google has a lot of ad revenue but its got competition by the "anti-Google" doubleclick.net and other ad companies. Also, if a much, much better search engine came out people would use that, if not then people go to the best which for most is Google. And Google has made a commitment not to be evil like MS has been, they support Linux, Mac and Windows rather then preferring one over the others and that has boosted it. But I seriously think Google is a bit overrated, first I hate ads and most people (who know a thing about technology) use ad-block or have custom CSS to block ads. Secondly, other then ads and search engines, there are monopolies everywhere else in the technology industry, browsers, OSes, and just about everything else be it abusive like MS as the only operating system or De-Facto like Firefox being the primary browser on Linux. I just can't see Google getting anywhere.

Re:Monopoly does not equil to google (1)

hatchet (528688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225055)

The greatest trick devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn't exist.

With microsoft and windows you actually get more than you wanted. You get silly pop-ups, blue screens of death... mostly stuff you don't need or want. But it's there, you know it's there.

Google has even greater power. They have a power to hide stuff from you and manipulate your mind. You can search for something, but the stuff you are searching falls down to the bottom of the list... the worst of all is that most of the time you wouldn't even know they are hiding something from you.

Re:Monopoly does not equil to google (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225509)

They can't do that. The moment they start returning worse results than other search engines, people will move to those other sites. Look how quickly people migrated from Yahoo to Google.

Re:Monopoly does not equil to google (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225407)

but its got competition by the "anti-Google" doubleclick.net and other ad companies
Doubleclick is owned by Google! Still, there's competition in ad market too, Yahoo's adword system (formerly Overture) is also very popular.

Free standards (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225007)

The moment Google tries to destroy free standards, destroy competition, and break the law regularly at will, let me know.

Until then, can we please stop with all this hyperbole and nonsense about how Google is evil?

Last I checked, MSN and Yahoo both volunteered private data to both US and Chinese governments, and Google was the only company to stand up to both, yet the media kept insisting that Google was the evil party for eventually caving into Chinese law. Google gives money to the Summer of Code project, volunteers tons of code, and also doesn't have a monopoly in their market.

Google hasn't thrown chairs, hasn't threatened to destroy anyone, and doesn't have leaked evidence like the Halloween documents, proving their evil.

Where exactly are the comparisons valid?

Re:Free standards (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225071)

I think this is more "bigger is always eviller" rhetoric.

Re:Free standards (3, Informative)

tritoneaddict (985232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225459)

Lawrence Lessig JUST did a http://www.grad.washington.edu/lectures/schedule.htm [washington.edu] talk on this at University of Washington last night. It was officially titled "Is Google(2008) Microsoft(1998)?" Because he's a smart guy the answer is a bit more complicated than yes or no.

But he did point out a few significant similarities. Fundamentally, both companies are/were trying to create a platform that other developers would use to create good stuff for users. That's been covered before and most of us are familiar with that strategy. The key is that these platforms only work when developers that use it TRUST that they won't get screwed by the platform operator at some later time. Lessig feels that this loss of trust was a far worse consequence to MS than any DOJ settlement/penalty was for the anti-trust fight of the late '90s.

Heck, it's safe to say that trust is the very reason we keep watching Google like hawks. It's the reason MS gets bashed and it's the reason FOSS is embraced. There's flat out NO WAY the rug can be pulled out from under you if you develop over an open source platform.

In light of that, Lessig pointed out a rather scary http://www.google.com/apis/maps/terms.html [google.com] fact:

8.2 Termination. Google may change, suspend or discontinue all or any aspect of the Service, including their availability, at any time, and may suspend or terminate Your use of the Service at any time. This includes, without limitation, the right to set, at Google's own discretion and at any time, a maximum number of map images you may access through the service without Google's prior written consent.

In addition, either party may terminate the Terms of Use at any time, for any reason, or for no reason including, but not limited to, if You engage in any action that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues the Google Brand Features or Google's reputation or goodwill. If You desire to terminate the Terms of Use, You must remove the Service from Your Site.

8.3 Rejection of Application. Google shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to reject any request to use the Service at any time and for any reason, and such rejection shall render null and void the Terms of Use between You and Google. Google shall not be liable to You for damages of any sort resulting from its decision to reject such a request.


Now, can you imagine your reaction if MS revoked your license because you bashed them in an email sent from a Windows box?

Re:Free standards (1)

tritoneaddict (985232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225531)

...damn, I need to learn how to use comment tags...

Re:Free standards (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225551)

Most people include a boilerplate, catch-all clause to cover their butts.

Have you actually seen people who have had accounts terminated for speaking poorly of Google?

Conversely, Microsoft disallows you to use terms like Linux anywhere in your XBox Live profile. Microsoft is acting on such a strategy, where as you are suggesting Google could in theory do so, while they haven't.

Google could abuse their position, as could many companies. How many companies depend on MySQL today? What if they abused that position? We don't talk about such possibilities, because it is highly unlikely. The company has established a track record that warrants trust.

Microsoft's early history involved blackmailing, buying out competitors, destroying standards, etc. Microsoft started in very seedy roots. Ask Steve Jobs off the record about Bill Gates some time. Google does not have such a past, nor leadership who use such tactics.

From day 1, they practiced a different model. Be open, don't harass your customers with big, annoying ads everwhere, provide superior alternatives, offer your stuff for free, etc. They have a company motto of "Don't Be Evil". Many of the things that have given Google an advantage, they offer up freely to everyone else.

They have opened the designs and standards on their server and power supplies. They contribute their optimizations back to the MySQL devs. They pay people to develop FOSS. Where is there any evidence that Google is going to start trapping people into their platform and abusing them, especially when Google is often in support of open, cross-platform standards?

Google could have released their own fork of Firefox, and locked people in. Instead they contribute code and money to Firefox. They could have released their own Linux distro, and locked people in. Instead they contribute code to BSD, OpenSolaris, Linux and all kinds of open apps via Summer of Code.

You can force parallels in places if you want. Someone made various parallels between Orson Scott Card's character Ender in Ender's Game with Hitler, and made what seemed to be a convincing arguement based on a number of coincidences that the characters were the same, save for the real biggy. Hitler believed in genocide, and Ender unwittingly committed a genocide and felt guilty for the rest of his life. Sometimes we see these coincidences and overlook the important parts.

In all the areas that really matter, Google is vastly different from Microsoft, and that is why I don't put stock in these comparisons.

Re:Free standards (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225479)

Last I checked, MSN and Yahoo both volunteered private data to both US and Chinese governments, and Google was the only company to stand up to both, yet the media kept insisting that Google was the evil party for eventually caving into Chinese law. Google gives money to the Summer of Code project, volunteers tons of code, and also doesn't have a monopoly in their market.
I think people hold Google to a higher standard thanks to their stated policy of not being evil. The amount of 'second chances' Microsoft gets from some people is fairly unbelievable - but Google is often criticised for the smallest thing. However, due to the amount of data they collect then it's good that people are paying attention to Google's every move.

Google Could Become an Ad Monopoly (1)

solar_blitz (1088029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225087)

I only skimmed through the article, but it seems to me that Cringley is talking about the advertising. Let's assume for a minute that Google's search engine will be at number 1 for a very long time and thereby small companies will want to advertise with them. The advertisements are driven by the algorithms behind Google's search engines, and if those algorithms were altered it might have a detrimental effect on businesses that rely on Google for a fair portion of its business. It's a sensitive issue because there might be plenty of businesses that rely upon Google for a majority of its advertising. That's a lot of reliance upon algorithms, and to think a handful of lines of code might determine a business's success or failure.

Or perhaps that's overstating it a bit?

Re:Google Could Become an Ad Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225323)

I only skimmed through the article, but it seems to me that Cringley is talking about the advertising.
Remember, it's spelled Cringely, as in... I cringe at "I, Cringely".

Google? Microsoft? (2, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225105)

"640 AdWords ought to be enough for anybody!" --Larry Page, Founder of Google.

I don't understand (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225107)

There are some conspiracy theories I do understand, but the "Google is evil," one is one I've always had a bit of difficulty following.

They've got a ton of services, yes...but I can't think of a single one which doesn't have competitors that I'm entirely free to use the moment I feel like it. If I don't like gmail, I can easily use something else. If I don't like Google itself, I can easily use Yahoo, MSN Live, or any number of others. So the fact is, they're not a monopoly at all...and I actually find their services extremely beneficial and useful, personally.

I know it's been said before, but I have to ask...

Where's the lock-in? I can't see it.

not surprising (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225111)

The guy who runs the engineering department at Jingle, the guys who own Free411.com, used to be the chief software architect at my current employer. After cleaning up his various messes for two years, I am not terribly surprised that they decided to pass on acquiring the company if they were able to see the source code.

Re:not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225833)

I've seen two buyouts now, and neither involved source code review as part of DD. Of course, that's a small sample but it seems likely that suits and accountants are the primary players in DD, not geeks. So unscrupulous operators can get away with all kinds of things in the source (e.g., GPL violations, nasty unmaintainable code that they knew was going to require a complete re-write, etc.) and often nobody knows until it's too late.

Re:not surprising (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225911)

True enough, but on the other hand it's entirely possible that Google did insist on an independent code review and didn't like what they saw. They're smart enough, technically, to realize how important that is.

Dupe, dupe and dupe (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225123)

How many generic "Is Google Evil?" articles are we going to get on Slashdot? I've yet to see one that produces anything newsworthy. They all just make general suggestions that Google is the new evil empire. Not only are these articles devoid of any meat and flawed, they are dupes. Please don't repeat them.

Re:Dupe, dupe and dupe (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225533)

They're completely ridiculous and everyone knows that, including the editors.

That said, they get lots and lots of page views, and Slashdot loves selling those ads, hm?

thanks to slashdot's comment preferences. (1)

sethawoolley (1005201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225933)

It's incredible how well the Slashdot comment preferences really help cull the chaff from the comments. In this case, since I'd already marked you as a foe, you got a -5 modification and I didn't have to read your comment until I'd read other, more insightful comments, thus not wasting time I hadn't already scheduled for wasting. This way, I don't have to read the baseless opinions of mindless tools for large, self-interested corporations until after I've informed myself of other, more knowledgeable fact-based opinions and research.

Take your comment here. You assert that it's not newsworthy. Yes, the type of article is not newsworthy, but the newsworthiness of the content of the article was based on who said it and the links it gave to some pretty disappointing behavior with a potential acquisition, its AdWords bugginess, and its inability to tune its own algorithms when they don't match empirical reality. I'll quote the main point:

At the heart of this problem is a flawed computer architecture that makes Google's customer service responses so slow. Google likes to pretend that its distributed architecture can handle anything, but that appears not to be the case here.
I have some expertise in distributed systems and am also familiar with Google's architecture -- I think that he's got a point that you can't just ignore.

If you don't want people to be informed of problems with large corporations, go write for (un)Reason magazine or its ilk, where you can collectively stick your heads in the sand together with your kind. That would be much better than telling the Slashdot editors to not publish articles you simply, and reflexively, disagree with.

Of course Google is like Microsoft! (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225143)

Do you have any idea how much work it is for me to change my homepage to search.yahoo.co.uk? Hundreds of thousands of pounds of effort, and just think of the training needed to use a different search engine.

(No, I didn't rtfa - it's cringley after all)

Obligatory aphorism (1)

rbrander (73222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225181)

Power Corrupts.

Monopoly may provide "absolute power" (in a given market) but having billions and billions of dollars and enormous industry influence is quite a lot of power, certainly enough to corrupt.

At some point, people start saying "but we can get away with it" about some dirty move that will create higher profits.

At which point, the old "don't be evil" thing is just...corrupted.

Google is an *ad* platform, not a search engine (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225219)

Google does not get paid one, thin dime for delivering search results. They get paid for delivering advertisements to potential customers. Google's business model is not all that different from old school, over-the-air TV. Give the customer something they want (TV programming/search results), and while they're consuming that, give them the opportunity to buy something (TV commercials/AdWords, etc.). So, in terms of online ad placement, Google definitely qualifies as a monopoly.

No go back and re-read Cringley's article with this point of view, and I think you'll see his point. In terms of revenue, Google is making some of the same kinds of financial mistakes that other monopolies have made: cozying up to partners, and then crushing them with a copy-cat service, cutting into your partner's business by dinking with their revenue streams, etc. Not a happy place if you work with, but not for, Google.

Personally, I hope and believe that Google is better than that, that they are listening, and will make things right.

Clients and Products (1)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225239)

Google's products are not search and gmail etc -- Google's product is a huge number of end users (and Google provides metadata about them, too).

Google's clients are not people who search, or people who use gmail -- Google's clients are companies that pay for ads.

Whether or not Google has a monopoly on placing ads, I don't know, but I doubt it.

Monopoly? (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225257)

Google cannot be considered a monopoly for the simple fact that their products still are not forced on anyone. End of story. The same cannot be said about Microsoft. Big difference, actually.

Basically there is a difference between a monopoly and a successful company which enjoys most of the market-share. The successful company with good market-share makes good products that people _choose_ to buy or use, while the monopoly focuses primarily on how they can force products onto consumers. In this case, the former describes Google well, and the latter describes Microsoft fairly.

Microsoft fans often stick their heads in the sand or make up excuses, but the undeniable fact is that Microsoft is often found to engage in activities which force their products on consumers. I won't argue the relative quality of their products compared to others because that's not the point. The fact is they're a monopoly, and they're taking choice away from consumers which should never happen.

Who the heck is Robert Crinkley? (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225353)

I love how the article introduces this author as if, he had some authority. Did he write Word Perfect? Doom? Word? Excel? Linux? Like, if he doesn't know assembly or at least C++ then what's his opinion really worth?

Re:Who the heck is Robert Crinkley? (2)

afroborg (677708) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225633)

Considering that he's writing about business strategy, what does C++ have to do with it?

Re:Who the heck is Robert Crinkley? (1)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225821)

It is my great honor to introduce you to your logical fallacy... *drumroll* ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem [wikipedia.org]

what kind of nda would Free411.com have? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225485)

I kind of thing that the name pretty much says it all "free 411." I don't really see what kind of trade secrets google could get from them that wouldn't be obvious.

Google alternatives .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225525)

Where can I go into a hight street shop and buy a PC without Windows?

What alternative search engines are there and how can Google prevent me from using them?

Re:Google alternatives .. (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225605)

Where can I go into a hight street shop and buy a PC without Windows?
Here [apple.com] (but the dedicated Apple stores did come along too late for Apple to gain a strong market share - most retail shops either didn't sell Macs or had them stuffed out of the way)

What alternative search engines are there and how can Google prevent me from using them?
I just Googled it [google.co.uk] , I remember back in the early days Google used to offer links to other search engines ("Try your search in..."), in fact you can still have that with the 'Customise Google [mozilla.org] ' Firefox extension.

Lawrence Lessig's talk today (1)

sufijazz (889247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225543)

http://www.ischool.washington.edu/events/calendar/984 [washington.edu] Lawrence Lessig is going to give a lecture tonight at the Univ. of Washington. The title is Is Google (2008) Microsoft (1998)?

Google is.. (1)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225581)

.. the next Standard Oil, Bell, GM, DeBeers, Microsoft, and U.S. Steel all rolled up into one. Now that we got that out of the way, can we please move on and report real news?

Funding for article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21225693)

Recently, it came to light that the funding behind a smear campaign against "An Inconvenient Truth" came from a source who had a lot to lose ... and who currently made a lot of money from abusing the environment.
I agree with another poster here there there is a lot of unjustified bad press against Google. Who in the hell funded this article against Google???

Just Google? (1)

Sir Pallas (696783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225699)

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post for Alexa Internet about this sort of thing. This Post is the New Black [blogspot.com] took a look at the frequency of "* is the new *" on the web and came up with this graph [blogger.com] ; the data says that Apple, Facebook, Google, and MySpace are all the new Microsoft, which is really just the new IBM.

3 groups... (3, Interesting)

davburns (49244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225819)

I don't know anything about the free411 thing. That might be "Evil" if it is how Cringely suggests. But with no details, it's hard to speculate.

The adSense complaining is in no way an indicator of a Microsoft-like monopoly. Google must balance the interests of users, content-providers, and advertisers. Subsets of all three groups are trying to game Google for their own benefit. Of those three groups, Google seems to be most leery of offending the users -- and this has worked well for them.

The user, really, is in control here. The user could use another search. They could put ads.google.com (or whatever) in their hosts.txt file (like many have done to doubleclick and others). Even for those who can't/won't do that, users can avoid pages they know have ads that are more annoying than the content is good (Otherwise I would read Dilbert every day -- but not with popup-blocker avoiding popunders.) Further, since the other two groups are trying to game google to get the attention of users, Google acts as a kind of spam filter for the user, only giving them ads that they can manage -- or even ignore. (Thus Google's limits on the number ads per page, etc.)

The content provider wants, simply, to make money. They have content -- which drives page hits -- and want to monetize that. They have some tension with Google over caches and summaries, but Google can make that up to them by increasing their traffic (for free, when the user searches) and maybe by providing money, if they use Google ads.

Advertisers are the loudest complainers, especially those who have chosen to base their business mostly on Google's referals. They also try the hardest to game Google, to get more users. This group seems to think that since they are the ones paying Google, that they're the only customers of Google, and that Google must treat them better than the other two groups. This is also the only group from whose perspective the 'monopoly' claims begin to make sense. If an online business wants traffic, they pretty much have to deal with Google, since Google "controls" so much traffic. Clearly, some of them resent Google for this lack of choice.

The content providers could choose someone other than Google to support their pages, and the users could opt out of google ads if they wanted. But the advertisers are stuck with google. This might allow google to abuse the advertisers if they wanted. I haven't seen them going that far, though. But they are willing to tweak their algorythems in ways that that sometimes hurt advertisers. I don't think it's intentionally "Evil", but the consequences are hard to foresee. (On the other hand, I've never seen google ads screw up a page's layout, much less infect a user's computer with spyware or worse.) I think that Google would love to be completely fair to these customers, but that's "hard," especially since many of these users are trying to be Evil to Google and the other two groups.

Anyway -- this is one way free markets work. The users and content providers have chosen the terms on which they'll deal with advertisers. If you don't like Google, you'll have to come up with something that's more attractive to those groups, in order to compete.

The comparison to Microsoft is there, but pretty weak. Microsoft does have to address the interests of users, 3rd party developers, and hardware manufactures. Microsoft uses its domanance in its OS and office products to keep all three groups locked in to each other and themselves. Microsoft does seem to favor developers over the other two, but only if the developers will lock themselves into the Microsoft-way of doing things (eg, Microsoft APIs instead of portable code.) This locks users in (if the software they want runs only on Windows), which in turn gives MSFT more clout when ordering hardware vendors around. Microsoft lock-in of some users puts pressure on others to do the same (what else do you do when someone sends you a Word2007 or Visio document that needs to be edited and returned? OO is almost compatible with Word, but not enough.) Now that Microsoft has a near-monopoly on users & hardware, it uses that to drag in more and more developers. (They don't own the open source crowd, obviously -- but lots of propritary software has moved from portable/multi-platform to only supporting Windows.)

I think Microsoft's cycles of lock-in is clearly Evil in the "Don't be Evil" sense. I don't think Google has gone anywhere near that far. Maybe they need to clean up some of their advertiser-facing interface -- but suboptimal Human/Computer interaction is not Evil. Maybe they need to hire more customer support people -- but understaffed is not Evil.

Oh hell I figured it was going to be... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21225829)

....veripedia (wikipedias for profit version) as they would certainly be better at changing the meaning of terms than MS has been.
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