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Firefox Creator No Longer Trusts Google 528

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the watching-the-watchmen dept.
watashi writes "Blake Ross the man whose scratched itch became the Firefox browser explains on his blog why he has a problem with Google's policy of promoting their own products over competitors' in search results. His main gripe is that the tips (e.g. "Want to share pictures? Try Google Picasa") result in an inability for other products (perhaps even Parakey?) to compete for the top slot on Google."
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Firefox Creator No Longer Trusts Google

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  • by mr_zorg (259994) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:42PM (#17394632)
    Wah. Why shouldn't Google put their own products first? Name me one other company that wouldn't do the same thing.
  • Parakey? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbarr (2233) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:44PM (#17394640) Homepage
    This is the third reference I have seen to Parakey in the past two days, yet when you go to their sight, it's nothing more than a solicitation for an email address for a product announcement. Anyone care to explain what it is? (I know, I know, Google it, but then again, wouldn't that go against the intent of the article? ;-)
  • Business (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markalot (67322) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:44PM (#17394642)
    It's a business. Maybe he should run his own search engine, spend millions+ on hardware and then not profit from it.

    In other words, I don't have a problem with this in the least.
  • Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikerm19 (809641) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:46PM (#17394652) Journal
    I would rather them concentrate on fixing the memory leaks then who they should trust.
  • by grolschie (610666) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:47PM (#17394658)
    Google's site, Google's rules. Don't like it? You have other choices. Unlike Microsoft products, it's not like many of us are locked into using Google. Just the way I see it.
  • Re:Business (Score:2, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:51PM (#17394696) Homepage
    If *that* is what he's really concerned with as the #1 reason why he shouldn't "trust" them, then he's fucking retarded.

    Seriously, that's the least of the world's problems if Google decides to actually "do evil".
  • Re:Parakey? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:56PM (#17394736) Journal
    so, what Blake is complaining about is that when comparing vaporware products to actual products that do what the user wants, google should ignore the actual product and promote the vaporware product nobody else has heard about, because He is the supposed author of said vaporware product.

    Got it.

    Somewhere deep inside, my view of Firefox just diminished.
  • Re:Priorities (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Tet (2721) <slashdot@astrady ... E.uk minus punct> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:57PM (#17394742) Homepage Journal
    I would rather them concentrate on fixing the memory leaks then who they should trust.

    Precisely. He doesn't trust Google. I don't trust Firefox. At least I have valid reasons -- it keeps crashing, it's slow and bloated beyond all belief, and the development team don't seam to have much of a clue. And yet, despite all that, it's still the only viable choice for a web browser. That thought in itself is somewhat depressing :-(

  • Re:so? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:58PM (#17394746) Homepage
    The difference as I see it is that Google doesn't display sponsored search results like many of the other search engines out there. The results they display are all based on the PageRank algorithm, which is supposed to be a reflection of how relevant the site is to your search terms. It's very deceptive to users who know that google doesn't display sponsored results to display your own stuff first. If you search for maps, it's hard to tell if Google maps is actually the most popular, or just displayed first because Google decided they want their own stuff first. I'm not saying that they are being evil, but I do find it a little odd they fudge the results just for their own good.
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:59PM (#17394762)
    The problem is that Google has a monopoly on web search, and as such, they cannot simply do what other companies would do. As it is, Google is using its web search monopoly as leverage to promote its non-search products (Picasa, Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Talk, Gmail, Blogger, etc), to the disadvantage of others that produce better products in those areas.
  • by RobinH (124750) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:00PM (#17394770) Homepage
    Wah. Why shouldn't Google put their own products first? Name me one other company that wouldn't do the same thing.

    Any company would, and that's why we have anti-trust laws. If Google gets a defacto monopoly on searches (which it hasn't got yet), then manipulating the search results to promote it's own non-search related products would be a clear anti-trust violation. Plus, Google has told us their motto is "don't be evil", and manipulating search results is at the very least naughty.
  • Re:I don't see it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:00PM (#17394776)
    ... but they haven't demonstrated it in the same palpable manner.

    Only because Emperor Palpatine hasn't taken over at Google yet.
  • Uh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scapermoya (769847) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:02PM (#17394780) Homepage
    Google isn't some public service that needs to be "fair." If consumers start to feel like google's self-promotion degrades the quality of the (free, bear in mind) service they provide, then they will stop using it.

    People need to stop treating really good ideas like something that we have a right to have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:02PM (#17394782)
    Because Google is a search engine. At least it was. When I search for something I want the end results to reflect the whole net, not just the parts that Google has a vested financial interest in.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:09PM (#17394824) Journal
    I see no naughtyness. Search results are search results. Paid ads are paid ads. We can all tell the difference, and for those a little less intellectually endowed, Google has colored the ad bar and noted it "sponsored link(s)". An ad placed by google has opportunity cost associated with it.

    FWIW, a google for "Online Maps" brings up Mapquest in second place. You know who was in first? Multimap.com. Google maps hit the top of the blue bar; Mapquest was the top of the sidebar. Google maps, btw, wasn't in the first two pages of search results. (A Google search for "map" has maps.google.com first, mapquest second, with that order recreated in the blue bar)
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:10PM (#17394834)

    dumbass i guess you forgot their "do no evil" policy.
    How is promoting your own products over other products evil? Don't open source projects do the same thing? Do you see Open Office recommending MS Office or Firefox recommending IE?
  • Re:Parakey? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:12PM (#17394848)
    From Wikipedia: Parakey is a Web-based computer user interface proposed by Firefox creator Blake Ross. Ross describes it as a "a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do."

    Uhmm... everything? Like run device drivers and manage memory allocation and multitasking :P?

    Have people forgotten that an "OS" comprises more than a shiny GUI? Well let's see how his "OS" performs when it doesn't have a real "OS" to run on top of.

    Can't people call it the way it is: Web GUI, Web Desktop, Web Apps...

  • by daeg (828071) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:12PM (#17394850)
    It still does, though. It's not like Google is being accused of altering the search results -- the results are the same. Nothing at all is preventing someone coming up with a superior product and getting a high page rank to get the #1 slot, is there?

    Do you also cry foul when a newspaper puts their name on top of the classifieds section?

    Do you cry foul when a yellow pages book from your phone company advertises the phone company?

    Do you cry foul when an advertising campaign also advertises the advertising studio that put the campaign together?

    Remember, Google is, in a sense, one huge advertising system. However, the entry is free for enterprising individuals with the content and product to back their site up to searchers.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:14PM (#17394864)

    The problem is that Google has a monopoly on web search, and as such, they cannot simply do what other companies would do. As it is, Google is using its web search monopoly as leverage to promote its non-search products (Picasa, Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Talk, Gmail, Blogger, etc), to the disadvantage of others that produce better products in those areas.
    They do? What about http://www.altavista.com/ [altavista.com] http://www.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] and http://www.live.com/ [live.com] ? Do they not work? Are you confusing popularity with monopolies?

    Nobody is stopping you from using those other search engines.

  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:14PM (#17394870) Homepage Journal
    Everything is moral, ethical and legal... until your company gets to a certain size. Then it becomes and evil monopoly.
  • by blakeross (611172) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:15PM (#17394874) Homepage

    > We can all tell the difference

    There is opinion and then there is fact [usatoday.com].

    > An ad placed by google has opportunity cost associated with it.

    A tip does not.

  • Re:so? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:25PM (#17394938)
    You simply don't get it. There's no issue that Google can do (within reason) whatever they like with their own assets. The issue is that Google is biased, and people who use Google should know that when they do searches, so they aren't being duped. It's information, it's newsworthy, it belongs on slashdot, digg and other places.

    This is not about telling Google what to do or not, it's about telling Google's _users_ that they are being duped when they search for particular types of software. It's Google's right to do so, and it's people's right to know.

  • by SocialWorm (316263) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:32PM (#17394976) Homepage
    One thing that I haven't seen anyone else mention yet is, regardless of if Google dominates search and search advertisement or not, they have an opportunity cost in that they could be advertising something for someone else in the space they take for themselves. This is true even if it's in a space of the page that isn't used for AdWords (Seriously, what would YOU pay to place a link to your site on Google's front page? What do you think Amazon, Netflix, or WalMart would pay, given the chance?). If Google gives up a click that they would get money for in order to promote something of their own, so be it. They are, after all, paying for it!
  • by moochfish (822730) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:35PM (#17394992)
    Last time I checked, Mozilla owed a huge debt of gratitude to Google. Wasn't it Google that helped them get off the ground by making browser development a financially viable business model, and even helped distribute the browser with the Google Pack? In fact, they even describe Firefox as helping you "browse the web quickly and securely [google.com]." I didn't see Yahoo, MSN, or Ask pushing Firefox the way Google did. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    Yeah, some stuff google does might justify a feeling of distrust. But ad placement for their in-house products? Not having ads for Outlook on Mozilla's homepage doesn't make Mozilla less trustworthy.
  • by ringm000 (878375) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:41PM (#17395036)
    >> We can all tell the difference

    > There is opinion and then there is fact.

    No one considers banning the lotteries yet. Isn't it fair for stupidity to be taxed?

  • by davmoo (63521) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:42PM (#17395044)
    Okay, so Google pushes their own products ahead of everyone else's. Would someone please name me a company that produces a product but pushes someone else's product ahead of their own? I guess you expect Ford to start selling Chryslers, eh? I bet you think Apple will start positively advertising the availability of Windows Vista, too.

    Grow up. Google is a company. It can preach all the "do no evil" it wants to. But ultimately it will behave like a corporation. And putting your own product first is not "evil".
  • by Jake73 (306340) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:44PM (#17395058) Homepage
    It's a question of context. Most companies promote their own products. The question is more regarding the ethics behind doing so. In particular, when MS began putting IE on every installed OS (with some other details in there), MS got into a little hot water. You could argue the same thing -- of course MS would want you to use their own products.

    But the devil is in the details. As the article says very clearly, Google is in a (near monopoly) position to direct users to "the best" of the web. When they do so with their own products in a way that is inaccessible to other vendors, questions begin to be asked.

    At the moment, it's more of a concern to advertisers. If I were Kodak trying to advertise my photo sharing product on Google, I'd be pretty upset that their competing product has far better visibility.

    It's a very clear conflict of interests -- just like MS with IE. Or MS with Office using "secret" API calls.
  • by bheer (633842) <rbheer&gmail,com> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:54PM (#17395134)
    Because it takes customers away from superior products? Because they have this grandiose page saying things like on no account will they compromise the integrity of search results. And yeah, I'd say putting unmarked ads -- a.k.a Tips -- over standard results does compromise the integrity of the results, especially since they're not clearly marked as the ads they are.

    To put this another way: CNN routinely cross-promotes Time-Warner movies as 'news', and gets routinely razzed for doing so (unless they've stopped -- I've stopped watching). So did many other publications, and these days the better ones have taken to labeling such articles with a 'note: we have the same parent' notice. Even Slashdot marks links to OSTG sites. It's basic ethics. But of course, if you see Google's search results as a haven for commercials, you'll fail to see the point -- just like execs at AltaVista and Yahoo Search once failed and gave Google their chance. They might as well put huge blinking banner ads there next.

  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:06AM (#17395188) Homepage Journal
    He works for a few others too... try googling "I work with" OR "I work for" trisexualpuppy
  • by servognome (738846) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:07AM (#17395196)
    Does CBS bitch that NBC doesn't let it advertise its shows on NBC? (Or at the least, if CBS managed to, give its own properties prime ad spots?)
    I'm sure NBC would bitch if CBS wouldn't allow advertisements for movies produced by Universal during primetime.
  • by KillerCow (213458) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:20AM (#17395270)
    Wah. Why shouldn't Google put their own products first? Name me one other company that wouldn't do the same thing.


    Microsoft. Microsoft would never leverage their leadership position in one market to capture new markets or lock out competitors. They would never bundle or cross-promote their products. They would never prevent their competitors from reaching their customers. They would never use their monopoly position to push into other spaces or prevent competition.

    Wait... they do do that. But... Slashdot tells me that Microsoft doing it is bad. But... somehow Google doing it is okay. I'm confused. Surely, when Microsoft does this, and it's bad, then when Google does the same thing, it must also be bad. No?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:38AM (#17395380)
    This will get modded down but if Apple somehow got into the search market and started advertising itunes or doing exactly what google is doing you'll have the same assholes saying "Well its not evil because X,Y, and Z is doing it" or "Steve Jobs is an innovator". You guys just have underdog syndrome. If this was 1999 all over again not a bad word would be mentioned about google. Shut the fuck up, its a company, they make money, they do not have a monopoly. If you don't agree get some vulture capitalists and some programmers and compete. You people sicken me with your arm chair intellect.
  • Vertical Monopoly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:42AM (#17395716)
    I think what Blake is trying to say, is that Google has created a modern day internet-ified "vertical monopoly" over certain kinds of software.

    Traditionally, vertical monopolies simply came about when companies purchased every level of manufacturing from resource acquisition to brick and mortar product retailers. Nowadays, especially in the burgeoning industry of internet-based software solutions, there is no 'resource acquisition' or 'brick and mortar product retailers.' Instead there is 'source code' and 'web advertising.'

    With Picasa/Google Calendar/Google Maps, Google has absolute control and ownership over every stage of development from 'source code' to 'web advertising.'

    Now the typical argument is "so what? isn't that what companies are supposed to do?" and that argument is absolutely right. Companies truly do aim for complete monopolization of an industry, either vertically or horizontally. This allows them to minimize costs, and ultimately deliver a better product to consumers.

    In an idealistic world there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If Linux was the only operating system in the world, there would be no "compatibility problems" (see Apple Computer, for an example of just such a OS->Hardware vertical monopoly). Problematically, Google is not Apple. Apple is 15% of the market. Google is nearly 80% (in its respective field).

    If Google is allowed to continue it's course of action, it will be as if Microsoft decided to start selling computer hardware (like Apple). This can be very bad for consumers. Say Microsoft wants to "buy marketshare" and gives away free laptops that are fast, problem free, and run windows (yeah, yeah, yeah, oxymoron, don't belong in the same sentence, your jokes aren't that clever so suspend your disbelief for the sake of argument).

    That's great... people start making accessories that only work with Microsoft laptops because they have 90% marketshare (see iPod). Soon all the other laptop companies go out of business because who can compete with a free laptop that's faster and better than yours? Now Microsoft laptops determine what new features are allowed (if iPod says no wireless connectivity, consumers don't get wireless connectivity. Thank God for big companies like Microsoft willing to step up to the plate... too bad Apple's marketing has made the iPod 'too cool' for the Zune, so consumers will have to wait for Steve Jobs to decide we're ready for wi-fi mp3 players before we can trade songs with each other on the go. Normally in a non-monopolized industry, one company would introduce wireless connectivity, and everybody else would follow to "keep up" but with iPods dominating the marketplace, smaller companies can all add wireless connectivity and Apple can simply "not care.")

    1 year later, Microsoft decides to jack up the price of the laptops to $2000. No other companies exist, and consumers must deal with it because all other choices are gone.

    So that's why monopolies are bad... I thought you all knew that, but from the comments I've seen so far it seems like that's not the case. Just because it's in the best interest for the company, doesn't mean it isn't ultimately bad for consumers.

    If Google (with an immense market share of web advertising/search advertising) kicks out competitors in picture management software by giving away Picasa and minimizing advertising exposure of other companies, the other companies will go out of business and we will view/organize our pictures at the whim of Google.

    If Google truly "does no evil" and never ever screws us over in the future, that's fine. But someday, the current CEO's/board of directors will move on, and somebody a little more greedy may take their place.

    It's best not to let any company achieve that much power over any area of industry.
  • So, what about... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Picklesworth (931427) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:43AM (#17395722) Homepage
    So what about when I search Google and it tells me that there are image results which I can see if I use Google Image Search. Or what about when I get an email with a date in it, so GMail offers to add an entry in my calendar? Or if Google Maps makes itself known when I am dealing with locations?

    Do you consider that such a thing is a problem, and that the search engine should instead not show me sample thumbnails from the image search but rather leave me to figure out its existence?
    This also happens with Yahoo, by the way.

    How is this different from telling me that I can use Picasa as a photo organizer when I search for a photo organizer? After all, they are both services hosted by Google.

    This is all something called integration, which is a wonderful thing that lots of software developers strive to achieve. For example, the various programs in a good Linux distro all know how to talk to each-other and all share the same GUI library. An office suite like Microsoft Office 2007 has each program able to host content created by another program. In OpenOffice I know that I can add an equation via Writer by going to Insert->Object->Formula or I can run OpenOffice Math to create one separately.

    Nobody complains about those features, so why is it a problem that Google does it?

    ...Or is there a double-standard here? Is Google only allowed to tell you about their services when you aren't explicitly asking for services which they offer?

  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:52AM (#17395776)
    kettle, pot, black
  • by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:54AM (#17395790)
    Google lost the right to use the "Don't be evil" motto when they teamed up with the Communist rulers of China to censor search results for Chinese subjects.
  • by Malfourmed (633699) on Friday December 29, 2006 @02:07AM (#17395856) Homepage
    An ad placed by google has opportunity cost associated with it.

    A tip does not.

    I disagree. The opportunity cost is the money google could have made by selling the tip to another provider. As you point out, tips have icons - and are also phrased in terms of advice by a trusted party rather than advertising - two attributes which no doubt would attract a price premium.

    While your argument is well thought out, I don't have a huge problem with google cross-marketing its products in this way, probably because (a) it's still relatively unobtrusive (b) google doesn't (yet) have the same market dominance in search as Microsoft has on the desktop and (c) google's general halo effect, which is still only slightly tarnished.
  • I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaneh0 (624603) on Friday December 29, 2006 @02:41AM (#17395974)
    I think we can all agree that Google has incredible power. They mean the difference between a paycheck and an unemployment check for--i'm guessing--millions of Americans. I was a developer consulting a web retailer during the September/October 2005 "Jagger" updates. This website went from page 10 on their top phrases to the first page above the fold. Two months later they were number 1 where they still are to this very day.

    The difference? Pre Jagger sales averaged $110,000/mo less $20,000 in adwords. Post Jagger sales were $140,000/mo with nothing in adwords. Six hundred thousand dollars a year from an algorithm update.

    This puts Google in the league of "Common Carriers." They're not nearly as vital as, say, the electric company--If google went dark today the other search engines would absorb the traffic--but their power doesn't come to them at no charge. They are benefiting greatly from this power, as you can see in their market cap. Google isn't a 1-company bubble, it's doing well because it has a unique amount of leverage and power in markets and technologies that almost surely will be the foundation of the global economy. In exchange for this massive power, Google has a responsibility to be a responsible corporate citizen.

    And let's face it--if you called AT&T 411 for the number to your local Cable Internet company and the woman wouldn't tell you without first giving you the name and number of their own internet service, people would justify complain. This is similar. We expect our "utilities" to be fair abiters in exchange for a captive audience. The time has come that we start considering Google in the same light.
  • by mstone (8523) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:04AM (#17396086)
    I think your reality check bounced..

    If Google had a de facto monopoly on search, it wouldn't mean squat. A company that wants to promote its photo app on Google isn't competing with Google in the search market. It's using Google as an advertising medium. The only way for antitrust law to come into play is if Google gets some kind of monopoly on 'advertising media', and there's no way that can possibly happen.

    Nothing Google does in its search results page prevents a company from running print ads in trade magazines or doing TV and radio spots. If you want to restrict the discussion to 'online advertising', nothing Google does on its search results page will prevent a company from hiring an actual marketing agent who's willing to do the legwork of finding the top 100 websites visited by the company's core audience and buying ad space there, or better still, working deals that will see the company's product discussed in the direct content of those sites (thus gaining the product a high page rank in Google's non-paid search results, and avoiding the "nobody actually talks about our product but we're going to buy our way onto the search page anyway" games entirely).

    This whole "Google won't let me buy the top slot, waah-waah-waah" bullshit is the sound made by people who are too cheap, stupid, or lazy to get out there and do some actual MARKETING. They want to click a "send me business" button and have the world beat a path to their door, largely based on the hard-earned-and-diligently-maintained reputation Google has won for providing relevant and trustworthy search results.

    People also have this strange notion that 'top slot' has some magical value that no other slot has. Seriously: I defy anyone to show me a meaningful financial breakdown of the difference in value between "number one slot on Google's paid search list" and "number two slot on Google's paid search list." If Google is 'harming' its competitors by keeping the #1 slot for itself, someone please define that 'harm' in actual shillings and pence. If you can't, there's no way you could establish standing to file a lawsuit, let alone claim any damages.

    Besides, Google putting its own products at the top of the paid links list is the very antithesis of anticompetitive behavior. When you see the link to Google's product, you also see links to other products that compete directly with Google's stuff. Please explain how we entered the Bizarro World where 'giving everyone the URLs to all your competitors' has come to be construed as 'anticompetitive behavior'. Christ on a pogo stick, people, show me three other companies that devote half as many resources to 'promoting competing products' as Google.

  • by mstone (8523) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:22AM (#17396152)
    Your argument is well-reasoned, but you failed to mark a distinction between "Google artificially directing traffic to its own products" and "Google artificially directing traffic to any website willing to pay."

    Let's face it, the whole paid-advertising thing is a direct violation of Google's page rank system. Users know it, and that's why Google makes a clear distinction between paid ads and unpaid search results.

    If Google were giving its own products an artifically high page rank, yes, they'd probably lose the trust of the users. But they're not. They're putting their own products in the #1 slot of the "these don't have enough page rank to get listed, but somebody's willing to pay us to put them here anyway" list. You need another argument to show how the difference between "Google, then everyone else willing to pay" and "everyone willing to pay, with Google mixed in there somewhere" will cost the company any meaningful loss of credibility among users.

    For that matter, please try to define an alternative solution, in which Google places its ads in the paid search list at a certain value without getting reamed (and probably sued) for artificially inflating the cost of buying the Nth slot in those rankings.

  • Re:I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:25AM (#17396172) Homepage

    This puts Google in the league of "Common Carriers."
    No it doesn't. Go look at the Telecommunications act of 1934 to find out what a "common carrier" is in terms of telecommunications. Google runs a free service over the internet. Further puncturing your ridiculous assertion is the fact that not the ILECs and cable co's that provide internet service are not even considered common carriers. You're clearly confusing the nition of "common carrier" with that of "utility monopoly", probably from hearing about ILECs being called "common carriers".

    They're not nearly as vital as, say, the electric company--If google went dark today the other search engines would absorb the traffic
    Yeah, it sounds like you're making the "utility monopoly" comparison. The laughable part is that you make and refute your own argument all in the same sentence. Google is open to competition at any time, on an equal footing. Buy a domain and enough hosting facilities and you too can index the internet and sell ads, just as they have.
  • by DusterBar (881355) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:44AM (#17396244) Homepage

    Well, it may not be real but did any of you ever see the original Miracle on 34th Street [imdb.com]? In that movie, there was a major plot point where the "Santa" gave out advice that sometimes told people to buy at another store. This was such a major positive PR move that it brought in more customers than it may have lost. This same concept is what seems to be going on here (or, more correctly, wishing was going on here).

    Now, I am not saying that the Google thing is actually an issue but the point is that sometimes playing fair / even handed is actually a win in the long run.

    Over all, however, I must say that Google does play rather fair - more so than many (most) other companies in the same space or even other businesses. This does not mean that they could not try harder, but it also does not mean that they should give themselves a disadvantage.

  • Re:I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:12AM (#17396362)
    Google is open to competition at any time, on an equal footing. Buy a domain and enough hosting facilities and you too can index the internet and sell ads, just as they have.

    That is not strictly true. The idea that "anyone" can compete with any company on "equal footing" is one of those silly libertarian, "free market cures all" delusions.

    In the real world, something called a "barrier to entry" exists for each of competitors in the marketplace. If those barriers are small, competition is usually flourishing and the "free market" functions as intended. Not so if the "barriers" are measured in billions of dollars or political power.

    Sometimes those barriers are regulatory and legal in nature, which causes libertarians and "anarcho captialists" to howl and whine about the evils of government.

    But more often then not they are based on other factors, such as technological, geographic, geo-politicial and the like. In the case of Google, the company is at this point in time "open" to competition by any Microsoft or Haliburton out there, or any one individual with a few billion dollars to spare on a risky venture. That is because Google has achieved nearly 50% market penetration (compared to 25% of the nearest competitor) and thus wields tremendous power over the marketplace. And that is why socially unjustifiable monopolies or, in this case, oligopolies are a fundamentally bad idea, no matter if their creation is coupled "good intentions" or not.

    In short, it is exceedingly foolish to allow any one company to control anything near 50% of the marketplace in any product, for market distortions of massive scale are sure to follow.

  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:14AM (#17396372)
    So which is better, at least getting a foot in the door in China for the potential to even MAKE a fight at one point in time, or just leaving them to do their own thing which has just worked so wonderfully in the past? Would you rather have all the major search engines in China be controlled by the government and have no outside presence at all?

    If you actually stop and think for a second instead of making knee-jerk reactions, it's pretty cut-and-dry what the better choice is.
  • Re:I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HUADPE (903765) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:33AM (#17396454) Homepage
    Sometimes those barriers are regulatory and legal in nature, which causes libertarians and "anarcho captialists" to howl and whine about the evils of government. But more often then not they are based on other factors, such as technological, geographic, geo-politicial and the like.

    There is a big difference between legal barriers to entry and financial ones. There is good competition in the auto industry at the moment, an industry with much higher barriers to entry than the search engine market. Financial barriers to entry can be overcome, and lack of market share can be resolved through advertising (assuming the product is decent...well even not them sometimes). Legal barriers to entry cannot be gotten around. If you don't do what they tell you men with guns can come and take you away. Men with guns, that's the difference between a legal barrier to entry and a financial one.

  • by NotBorg (829820) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @05:15AM (#17396600)
    As long as the google hints are clearly marked as distinct from the search results, and are not intrusive, I see no problem with this. In the actual results google seems to be fairly honest to the algorithm for now.

    Exactly.

    I had to see what the fuss was all about. So I Googled "photo sharing" which yielded a page with "sponsored links" fist and were marked as such. Right below it was a single line:

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

    The normal search results followed.

    Ok I know that I'm using Google as my search engine. I know that this one line stands out as being different from ALL other search results because it has an image next to it and it is not structured like the other search results. And I know that this particular result has is labeled as a Google product.

    Geeeeeee. I'm confused. I can't tell that Google is promoting one of it's own products.

    Ok mabye I am. Fuck-it.... GOOGLE IS EVIL. Next in line.... ahh Yahoo! I do a Yahoo! Search for "Photo Sharing" Guess what it looks just like the Google page except that they are promoting Yahoo! Photos instead. "Sponsor Results" followed by

    [Yahoo Y Lolo] Share photos on Yahoo! Photos

    Followed by the normal search results. Obviously Yahoo! is evil to.

    I now use MSN because when I searched for "photo sharing" on MSN I didn't get a Microsoft product between sponsored results and the normal results. MSN Search isn't evil that way. Except that every search result on the first page had "msn" or "microsoft" in its domain name.

    whatever.

  • Re:I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Friday December 29, 2006 @06:05AM (#17396772)
    There is good competition in the auto industry at the moment,

    You must be joking. What dealership do I go to buy my electric car, for which there is considerable demand? Where do I get my bio-diesel/electric hybrid? How about an in-hub electric motor 4 wheel drive system? Stuff that has been around for decades and for which there would be a 2 year-long waiting list if it were only available from any of the major makers. Give me a break, none of the major, entrenched car makers compete on anything but marketing and manufacturing vehicles that are as cheap as possible to make and last as short a period of time as it is humanly possible while generating maximum after warranty parts demand. The term to use is "oligopoly". In a properly functioning marketplace there would be hundreds of car makers, not less then 10 globally.

    Legal barriers to entry cannot be gotten around.

    Neither can be geographic. A toll road built in the only valley linking major metropolies is just as difficult to "compete" with as a legal decree. In one case there is next to impossible political power to overcome, in the other a few trillion tons of rock. A conglomerate who manages to purchase all, say, nickel deposits world-wide, is also impossible to compete with. The very simple fact that the deposits accessible to mining (at non-astronomical price) are finite. There is no room to "expand" or to compete. Etc and so on.

    Men with guns, that's the difference between a legal barrier to entry and a financial one.

    As I pointed out, "financial" is only one of many different types of barriers to entry, of which legal only but one. Most of them are as insurmountable as men with guns.

  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Friday December 29, 2006 @06:08AM (#17396788)
    But the point is that Google are not saying that Picasa is "Easier to use than Kodak", are they?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @07:13AM (#17396980)
    Here's what Google has to say about it: clicky [blogspot.com]

    Basically, they're competing with everyone else fairly. They're not favoring their own ads. And IMHO, if they did put their own ads on top, it would be fine. But then they should expect some people to choose overture for keywords that google grab for themselves.
  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday December 29, 2006 @07:53AM (#17397066)
    TrisexualPuppy is a known slashdot troll. His method? Make big, impressive (and false) claims about what he does and try to play the authority card to make his posts fly. On the process TrisexualPuppy writes a few pure troll posts. Here is a small list of claims that TrisexualPuppy made:
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to work for google's accounting department
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to write video game reviews
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to be a systems administrator working for a 3500-employee corporation
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to be "an active lesbian"
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to have worked "in the UK for Barklay's for 30 years"
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to "work in Washington for an Internet Security firm" (while in here [slashdot.org] he claims to be "planning on travelling to DC" to attend president Ford's funeral).
    • in here [slashdot.org] he claims to have met Sheldon Cohen, a psychologist and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and also reading "few of his papers on the immune system". Then he pastes a link to a wikipedia article which doesn't even exist.
    All this was extracted from TransexualPuppy's last 25 posts. And of course, the confession right out of the wolf's mouth:
    Hey, idiot. I only posted this to up my karma. Every post that I make is fake.
    Taken from here [slashdot.org] Mod him accordingly.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Friday December 29, 2006 @08:30AM (#17397204)
    "Google lost the right to use the "Don't be evil" motto when they teamed up with the Communist rulers of China to censor search results for Chinese subjects."

    It's 2006; the era of McCarthyism is dead. Is there really a reason why people still use the word "Communist" as a sort of bogeyman? China's leaders aren't evil because they're communists (and, by the way, they aren't); they're evil because they're evil.
  • Really? No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:43AM (#17397518)
    Newsflash people: Google is a company that is in the game to make money. "Do No Evil" .. what a joke. Google is going to do what's in it's own best interest. All smart companies do. So enough of this outrage. Some of you people act like little kids who've just found out there's no Santa Clause. Google screwing someone or some thing to make money? No shit. Deal with it. This crap from Google will continue so stop worshiping them like they are the second coming of Jesus Christ. They are not. If screwing someone will result in making some money they will opt to do it. It's just a matter of degree. It's time to recognize that and deal with it.
  • by udderly (890305) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:49AM (#17397574)
    As a geek, I realize that many of us have stronger ethics than most others.

    While your wording is careful and not technically untrue, don't you think that it's a rather smug-sounding assertion? Almost any large group can make some claim that a sizable number of its members are more _____fill-in-the-blank___ than most others. Try it out. As a left-handed person, I realize that many of us have longer shinbones than most others.

    But, given the prepositional phrase that you began the sentence with, I wonder if you didn't mean to imply that geeks are generally more ethical than most other subgroups of the population. If so, what is the ethical mesuring stick? As far as I can tell, the prevailing ethical system here is a relativistic/existential one (meaning that a universal moral code is rejected in favor of a personal/subjective one). I'm not necessarily against that, but it does seem a little easier to be "moral" when one has the ability to decide for oneself what that means. At least in comparison to some externally imposed ethical system. In any event, you would be hard-pressed to find a whole lot of people who have an relativistic/existential ethical system who did not feel that they were quite moral or ethical.

    It's interesting that no one has yet challenged your statement here on slashdot. If someone had posted an equally accurate statement, such as "as a [Religious Jew, Practicing Christian, Card-Carrying Republican, CEO of a major corporation, I realize that many of us have stronger ethics than most others," I wonder if they would have gotten a free pass.
  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:56AM (#17397644) Homepage Journal
    I'd say Google has a pretty good argument that the Chinese people aren't losing anything by having Google censored, as if Google didn't do it China'd just block the entire country from going to Google.
  • Re:I Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:00AM (#17397670) Journal
    FYI: The absence of specific products does not equate to a lack of competition. It could be that the cost for manufacturing such things is simply not justifiable, the technology just isn't as mature as you want to believe, and/or you have grossly misjudged the potential market.

    You are, of course, free to start "The Ignoramus Maximus Electric Auto Company" and produce these products yourself. Come up with a good sales pitch and find some venture capitalists, hire some good engineers and have a go. If the big bad oligopoly squishes you under its thumb I suppose you can always blog about it. Of course we all know such a brilliant business idea is guaranteed to be successful, what with such readily available technology and high demand...

    Give me a break, none of the major, entrenched car makers compete on anything but marketing and manufacturing vehicles that are as cheap as possible to make and last as short a period of time as it is humanly possible while generating maximum after warranty parts demand.


    Buy a Honda. If you bother to take care of the thing like you're supposed to it'll last longer than you will.

    =Smidge=
  • Re:I Disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubergenius (918325) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:20AM (#17397822) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but you're wrong. I am growing very tired of people thinking and arguing that because a company is immensely popular, it is somehow "indebted" to society, and is a "social service" because of that popularity. That is flat wrong.

    For Google to have any obligation beyond itself and its shareholders, they would have to have governmental approval to become the only search engine on the web, thus shutting down Yahoo!, MSN Search, Ask.com, and the host of other search engines that could easily be substituted for Google.

    Just because you rely on Google doesn't mean Google owes anything to you. If they want to do something, and you don't like it, you have a huge array of other options for your searching needs. Just because you don't feel like using another one doesn't mean Google is indebted to you in any way.
  • Re:I Disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:22PM (#17399058) Homepage Journal
    Funny thing is, I remember, way back in the late nineties, when the search engine market was locked up by Yahoo and Alta Vista, and only a fool would try to break in.
  • by ahodgson (74077) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:27PM (#17402330)
    Is there really a reason why people still use the word "Communist" as a sort of bogeyman?

    Probably because all Communist regimes really were, and continue to be, pretty much pure evil.

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