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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blake Ross to Google: Trust is Hard to Gain, Easy to Lose

Blake Ross, one of the main guys behind the Firefox project, says he no longer trusts Google because the company recently announced that it will promote its own products over those of the competition.

Google is now displaying "tips" that point searchers to Google Calendar, Blogger and Picasa for any search phrase that includes "calendar" (e.g. Yahoo calendar), "blog" and "photo sharing," respectively. This is clearly bad for competitors, and it's also a bad sign for Google.

In a sense, Blake is right to be outraged considering the "do no evil" reputation of Mountain View's giant. Almost everybody that uses Google Search expect it to return unbiased search results. By displaying "tips" on top of search pages, Google is inciting users into using their products, which in a lot of people's mind, is just plain wrong. In another sense, I think that any company that has such a huge user base would be crazy not to do something like this. If Google stands to profit by displaying tips that point people to their products, which are both free and excellent, I say fine! Yahoo and Ask are already doing it, why would it be wrong for Google to do so? Remember folks, the main goal of a company is to make profit and attain market dominance in their field of operation. So here are 2 questions for you to wrap up this post:

  • Is it morally wrong from Google to do this?
  • Is it financially wrong from them to do it?
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  • I don't think it's morally or financially wrong for them to do this at all. They allow certain companies to purchase ad for certain words, and essentially they're just purchasing those from themselves. It doesn't appear in exactly the same format as an ad, but at the same time, it's clearly not a part of the normal search results. If they gave their own sites a higher ranking in the search results,I think that would be morally reprehensible, but I trust Google no less for a bit of self-promotion, because they're not claiming their product ranks at the top of the search, they're merely saying "You're already using our search engine, and perhaps you'll like this other service we have as well."

    As long as they're honest and upfront, and don't hide it in the search results, I trust Google just as much as I ever did.

    By Blogger Sir Nicholai, at 5:50 PM  

  • This is ridiculous, it's being blown way out of proportion. It's not like Google is redirecting you to their products, they've got a seperate ad to the side, which CLEARLY isn't displayed in the search results just offering you the service. This stuff is so harmless:

    Tip: Want to share your life online with a blog? Try Blogger

    Tip: Want to organize your schedule and share events with friends? Try Google Calendar

    Tip: Want to share pictures? Try Google's Picasa Web Albums

    If anything, I think this is very helpful. I've found that every google product I've used (all of the aformentioned, mind you) are very useful and helpful. If you're looking for a calendar, Google might as well offer you theirs, right? Besides, it's bound to be better than half of the crap you could pull out of a Google Search.

    Mr. Ross's hate is completely unbridled and unnecessary. Even when you search for "photo sharing" the first result is Flickr.

    It's really not that big of a deal as Blake Ross makes it appear to be and I really hope this doesn't sour any of the strong Firefox and Google ties.

    By Blogger CaptainFortyTwo, at 7:05 PM  

  • My thoughts exactly.. It's funny one guy can ignite a firestorm of controversy with a simple post, and turn something that should be seen as completely acceptable into an horrible act of corporate capitalism.

    Even if google do not pay for their own "sponsored ads", and that apparently, 82% of searchers don’t know when a result is paid for, they're displaying those tips on their OWN pages, if people aren't happy with this, they just have to switch to msn search or Yahoo..

    By Blogger Kiltak, at 1:53 PM  

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