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Google As The Next Microsoft? 235

Posted by Zonk
from the yeah,-he-went-there dept.
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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Google As The Next Microsoft?

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  • A monopoly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cmorriss (471077) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @01:48PM (#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? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hemogoblin (982564) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @01:55PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:15PM (#21225081) Homepage Journal
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by x_MeRLiN_x (935994)

          [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? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:50PM (#21225363) Homepage Journal
            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.
            • by Cerebus (10185)
              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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by worst (867607)
      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cmorriss (471077)
        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.

    • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:36PM (#21225255) Homepage
      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.
      • Google is the 800 pound Gorilla. They are not quite Microsoft yet, but they are not that far off in online advertising.

        Yes, but I cannot see how Google could lock people into their advertising in the same way that Microsoft locks people into Windows, Exchange and MS Office. The cost of moving to another product will remain cheap.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Google is the 800 pound Gorilla. They are not quite Microsoft yet, but they are not that far off in online advertising.

          Yes, but I cannot see how Google could lock people into their advertising in the same way that Microsoft locks people into Windows, Exchange and MS Office. The cost of moving to another product will remain cheap.


          Google is offering apps and services to better profile individuals. If they develop the most accurate database of profiles they can achieve lockin to the same extent that Mic
      • by Gorimek (61128) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @04:51PM (#21226139) Homepage
        The premise of this post seems to be that each company has to be an "X" company, where X is a single noun. If Google is an advertising company, it can therefore logically not be a search company.

        Adherence to this view forces you to claim that the company dominating internet search worldwide is in fact not a search company!

        If your premises forces you to believe in crazy things, it's time to check your premises. In my world Google is both a search and an advertising company, and several other things as well. It's a little more complex to think this way, but with some practice most people can manage quite well with such a complex world view!
        • The premise of this post seems to be that each company has to be an "X" company, where X is a single noun. If Google is an advertising company, it can therefore logically not be a search company.

          You misunderstand. Google is an advertising company, period. Advertising is the business, the opportunity. Search, maps, email, etc are merely strategies to profile individuals in order to serve the business, advertising.

          Adherence to this view forces you to claim that the company dominating internet search wo
      • In targeted online advertising, and perhaps online advertising in general, Google is the 800 pound Gorilla.

        Five years ago, we all would have identified DoubleClick as that 800-lb gorilla. Five years from now, there might well be a different company at the top of the heap.

        That doesn't sound like a monopolized market to me, and certainly not an illegal monopoly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mblase (200735)
      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 o
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by VorpalEdge (967279)
      No, everybody uses Google because everyone else says Google is the best at performing searches. There is a difference.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr. Spork (142693)
      Exactly. For Cringely to lump Google in with Microsoft as a monopoly is to dilute the whole concept of what a monopoly is - to the benefit of Microsoft, a real monopoly. If Cringely starts throwing around that word and by it meaning "powerful company with some weight to throw around" he has missed the whole point of what a monopoly is and why it's bad.

      Maybe what he's doing instead is looking for a nasty word to call corporate practices he doesn't approve of, like undermining small companies after stealing

  • ...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 i

    • Re:Monopoly? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by that this is not und (1026860) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:01PM (#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.
      • by linuxci (3530)

        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

    • 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 Wi

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.
  • FUD (Score:4, Informative)

    by elh_inny (557966) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @01:58PM (#21224951) Homepage Journal
    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.

    • by GoofyBoy (44399)
      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.
    • by 0xC0FFEE (763100)
      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

    • by tknd (979052)

      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 co

  • by realdodgeman (1113225) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @01:59PM (#21224957) Homepage
    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
    • by pavera (320634) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:27PM (#21225173) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by kwerle (39371)
        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 prod
        • by pavera (320634)
          Google didn't intentionally "kill" these businesses, but they are bad at monitoring and fixing click fraud. And it is not in google's interest to monitor and fix click fraud (at least not initially) as the more clicks the more money they make.

          The businesses I have seen go under got caught in this trap, they are advertising on google, they are getting sales, things are going great. Then one day out of no where sales stop... they investigate and see that their ads are running for 15 minutes a day because s
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by linuxci (3530)

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pavera (320634)
          it isn't a question of setting sensible limits, they had limits in place, the point is once your budget is exhausted (your limit reached) your ads no longer run, and you get 0 sales. When someone click frauds your ad, and exhausts your budget at 12:05am, well guess how many sales you're going to get that day? Guess how much you're going to spend for those zero sales? That's right, you're entire budget will still go to Google, and you will get zero sales. Have that happen for 3 weeks straight and guess w
      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pavera (320634)
          And that is the problem with google. These businesses advertised through many different channels, yahoo, msn, yellow pages, and google. Just so happens that ~90% of the good leads and sales came from google.

          Google while not being a monopoly, really is THE ONLY way to advertise online, nothing else works reliably that I've seen.

          Unfortunately, when someone decides they are going to click fraud your ads, well there isn't anywhere to hide, you can't just take your google budget and put it on yahoo and expect
    • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:29PM (#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?
      • 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

        • Exactly! By comparison, Microsoft is judged by a lower standard and passes it every time.

          Unfortunately, since that includes stuff like 1. Steal software ideas from other companies and 2. Be evil, passing it is a bad thing.
  • by downix (84795) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:00PM (#21224965) Homepage
    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.
  • 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
    • by linuxci (3530)

      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.
      • Doubleclick is not owned by Google. Doubleclick is in the process of being acquired by Google. There is a difference. Verify your facts before blurting them out next time.
  • Free standards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:07PM (#21225007) Homepage Journal
    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?
    • I think this is more "bigger is always eviller" rhetoric.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tritoneaddict (985232)
      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
      • Re:Free standards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @03:15PM (#21225551) Homepage Journal
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dedazo (737510)

          Conversely, Microsoft disallows you to use terms like Linux anywhere in your XBox Live profile

          *sniff*, I do love the smell of a good meme [slashdot.org] in the morning. I guess all that FUD is working!

          Ask Steve Jobs off the record about Bill Gates some time.

          You mean the guy that sued his clone makers out of existence, won't let me run the OS I bought on any hardware I want and won't let me buy an iPod with legal tender cash so he can fight the evil people who are trying to let me use *my* $400 device as I see fit? Ye

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wellingj (1030460)

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

        Uhhhh.... They wouldn't be a monopoly any more?
    • by linuxci (3530)

      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.

  • by cashman73 (855518) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:20PM (#21225105) Journal
    "640 AdWords ought to be enough for anybody!" --Larry Page, Founder of Google.
  • 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 t
  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:22PM (#21225123) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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?
    • 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-
      • I didn't contend Google is perfect or without flaw.

        I contend that we get a bevy of articles that continue to claim Google is evil, they are the new evil empire, they are the new Microsoft, and they fail to back up these claims.

        Google may be growing past their ability to provide great service to their customers, but that doesn't make them Microsoft. The supposed "great point" you bring up has absolutely nothing to do with a comparison to Microsoft. The question is, "Is Google the next Microsoft", and I say
  • 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)
  • 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'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.

  • 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.
  • 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?
    • by linuxci (3530)

      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.

  • 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)?
  • .. 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?
  • 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... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by davburns (49244) <davburns+slashdot&cat,pdx,edu> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @03:57PM (#21225819) Homepage Journal

    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 edi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by happyemoticon (543015)

      What cannot be stated loudly enough is that when advertisers and content providers attempt to game the system, they have a negative impact on the users.

      There was a time when Google was unmatched at getting you what you were looking for. As soon as people started to hack their PageRank, that web search Garden of Eden was destroyed. They're still pretty good, but many off-the-beaten-path keywords churn up increasingly suboptimal results, and I can only conclude that this is because they're attempting to inf

  • ....veripedia (wikipedias for profit version) as they would certainly be better at changing the meaning of terms than MS has been.
  • evilgooglenoshitsherlock
  • The whole "Do No Evil" thing and being the wunderkind of corporations rub people the wrong way because they serve as mirrors to these other firms. When I worked at a hedge fund, a lot of the guys were really hoping for Google to fail and prove to themselves that Google is no better than all the other companies. One trader suggested after the Google IPO that Google should take all their cash and buy out a media company because their amazing IPO, to the trader, was a fluke and Google was itself worthless.
  • Shorter Cringley: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SEE (7681) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @05:51PM (#21226571) Homepage
    1) Google continually tries to improve its algorithms to deliver an improved experience, rather than sitting on its laurels.
    2) Sometimes the change in algorithms has negative consequences for some websites.
    3) Some websites are living so close to the edge that one month of Google putting their ads in less optimal places costs them so much money it drives them out of business in a single month.
    4) It's not the fault of the marginal businesses who don't have the sense to set daily and monthly expenditure limits they could afford, or who have made themselves so dependent on Google that one month of suboptimal ad placement sinks them. It's Google's fault for trying to improve its algorithms.
    5) Therefore, Google is Microsoftian in its evil.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @06:02PM (#21226649)
    except that they don't have a monopoly on anything, haven't been convicted of illegal business practices, and haven't been pressuring customers into exclusive contracts. And they have been sponsoring and supporting true open source projects.

    But, yes, they are like Microsoft in that their stock is doing really well.

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