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Me The Geek » Blog Archive » Google and the mojo lost
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24 May

Google and the mojo lost


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2007 might be remembered for the year Google finally lost its mojo. This past months, peaking this week, Google has been getting an ever higher heat.

Some of the critics that I have come across lately are:

Privacy concerns

This is one of the oldest, more persistent, and probably best founded concern. Google is, no doubt, collecting a lot of information from its users. But then, people chose to use it, and are in no way forced to. Although doing so would definitely present a challenge for many Internet heavy users

The discussion gained another big argument with yesterdays news of Google’s acquisition of Feedburner. Todd Cochrane from Geek News Central explains it here. Like him, I spoted hundreds doing some similar critics yesterday.

Monopoly

Google has now around 70% of the search marketing, with its closes competitors (Yahoo and Microsoft) obviously tailing way behind. This makes for a de facto monopoly in the search business. But that is not the biggest concern. After all, as we said, you can chose to use a competitor any time, and it is as simple as to type a different URL.

Feedburner’s and last month’s 3.1 Billion US$ acquisition of DoubleClick, bring more arguments to the on-line advertisement monopoly discussion. As Amit Agarwal points out in his article at Digital Inspiration, the options for Web ads publishers are decreasing.

SEO Chat is on of the many publications discussing the impact of the DoubleClick acquisition.

Open Source Contribution

Yesterday, an article at infoworld suggested that Google should open and contribute more code. The article also cites a 2006 blog post from Matt Asay. While I agree with both in that companies that profit big from Open Source should at least feel some moral obligation to help Open Source projects, I think that Google is getting an unfair criticism just for being extra successful.

There are many ways Google contributes to the Open Source community. One of the most notable being the Google Summer of Code. I won’t list all of them since Glyn Moody already did a good list at the Linux Journal. It is also interesting to read the comments in there, to get a feel of the changing perception over Google.

On the other hand, there is a more subtle effect that should be taken into account: how much contribution to a leading Open Source project is too much? Jeff’s opinion at his Idealog makes some sense: Mozilla is getting most of its income from Google. Could that be influential in ways we are not aware?

More criticism

The New York Times had an article spotting the beginning of this process in 2005 already. Today, the points of the article seem even more relevant.

Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet has compiled more critics here in a very smart way.

There are plenty more. Feel free to reference them in the comments if you want. Also, some defense arguments would be nice.

Some personal thoughts

There is a balance that Google and any successful company has to seek, and it is constant work, to be the leader in a field, but not become a monopoly, and don’t beat the small players in a foul way. Google learned some lessons from Microsoft’s experience, but it is now starting to get attacked, just like Microsoft has been for many years now.

But Google has been quite a decent competitor so far. Its success has come mostly from technical merits, and not -many- disloyal plays. Competition should still be working to beat Google on technical merits and virtue. There is plenty of money and stake around to do the rest.

As for the OpenSource community, it should take from Google as Google takes from it. Imitate it, and refine it. Google is building great apps using Open Source. I, for one, use those apps to work, for free, and even for an Open Source project that, at some level, competes with it. As an Open Source developer, I think it is that much I have to expect from Google. And it is enough.

One funny note: seems like Bill Gates was right when he said:

Google, because they are in the honeymoon phase, people think that they do all things at all times in all ways.

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One Response to “Google and the mojo lost”

  1. 1
    H.Nasir Says:

    I don’t think there is any other reason than financial envy for people to critque Google. They offer a great and I mean an outstandgly great core service of online search to all their customers. They use Linux because they are allowed to use it and have made no commitment to help anyone related to Open Source by using Linux.
    Their Summer of Coding is also not really to help people, but (IMO) to actually expand their user base and build loyalty on top of which they go away with some brilliant ideas and save on recruitment costs.
    Google is a smart company and I feel in many ways, even smarter than Microsoft.
    As for feeling sorry for the small players that Googles brushes out of the market, I think it would be hard to find a single one of these small players who would not be willing to give an arm and a leg to become the next Google. So, feel sorry for those who would feel sorry for others.

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