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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blake Ross Tip : Google Please Don’t Use Tip Feature

Blake Ross, one of the co-creators of Firefox comes with a note captioned - “Tip: Trust is hard to gain, easy to lose”. Google's new "tips" that direct web searchers to Google owned properties like Picasa. These appear as a tip while searching for keywords like "calendar," "blog," and "photo sharing." The concern here is whether this is an acceptable business practice or whether Google is muscling in and taking unfair advantage of its own platform. The issue is that a small sized icon appears alongside the search query results –in the hypercompetitive search engine advertising this may be seen to enough to turn away other sponsored ads.(I checked searching against a variety of keywords and found that Google products without doubt appeared as a TIP , each and every time.)
Blake argues that this reflects not only a sense of unfairness over competing offering s besides admitting that their search may not yield the primary place for its products.(Though in reality Google can tune their search returns to place their products at the top – which it has been claiming for sometime that it would not try such gimmicks). Basically Google is giving itself preferential treatment for it’s own sponsored links. This may turn off advertisers.
Google’s potential monopoly power is less threatening than Microsoft’s because changing operating systems is hard. Blake argues that in many ways, Google’s new age “bundling” is far worse than anything Microsoft did or even could do. Microsoft threw spaghetti at the wall and hoped it stuck, and likewise there’s nothing wrong with Google’s arbitrary front page ads. The difference here is that Google knows what users want and can discreetly recommend its products at the right time.
Matt Cutts & Mike Arrington come out with their well thought out and right meaning perspectives on this issue. Come to think of it - It is an irony as Google’s ads in the past were less intrusive ( and seen to be so!) – while moves like above may help it to advertise its offerings, in the medium to long run, the advertisers(who pay dollars) may gradually begin to look elsewhere. This makes dent into Google’s image as a poster child of honest and ethical businesshouse.
TIP: Moves like this would catapult Google into the category of yet another silicon valley company and may begin to get avoided by users as it staddles into offering new and different web solutions.

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