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Why Google Sucks?

I always cheered for Google and I am still a Google fan and have followed it very closely but today's story is a little different, a little on the constructive side. Why Google sucks? Puneet Mehrotra writes.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2009 15:31 IST
Puneet Mehrotra

Over the last seven years I must have written at least 60 stories on Google. Just like a true Google fan mostly in awe of how great Google is, writing about new launches from Google labs and how Google had finally beaten Microsoft? What a high it gave me each time Microsoft was supposedly beaten and the online turf came under Google dominance, words cannot define. I always cheered for Google and I am still a Google fan and have followed it very closely but today's story is a little different, a little on the constructive side. Why Google sucks?

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely

It's a human tendency to side with the underdog, to beat the bully. For years the bully was seen as Microsoft and Bill Gates the devil who built the world's largest company selling proprietary packaged software. Google took on Microsoft right in its home turf and succeeded to an extend too. To get this in perspective imagine at the height of the glorious Greek empire, a Red Indian tribe taking them heads on! (A Red Indian Shaman as Cleopatra's lover would have been a great love story) Or in today's context imagine Sri Lanka suddenly taking on the US in the economical context. Sounds unbelievable. Well in 2000 would anyone believe a startup called Google would be a threat to Microsoft? Today in Microsoft it's not Oracle or IBM or any other company it's Google which is the biggest threat. Eight years in internet time and how things have changes.

Power corrupts and today the same is the case with Google. With almost a 75% search engine share this company is on its way to become a monopoly. The signs of an arrogant power corrupted company are already showing and here are a few of them.

Advertising: Why double standards?

When Google, the modern dictator, creates an ad program called Adsense it's called advertising. When other advertisers create a program based on text ads its called unethical advertising. Didn't get it? Well in simple words suppose a website puts Google ads, it's perfectly fine with Google. But if you sell your ad space to other advertisers in terms of text ads you suddenly come under unethical advertising and your rankings in Google start plummeting.

Question Google on this and you get the standard reply about the unknown formula of Page Rank and other "nobody knows" and how technology drives this ranking system. So effectively if Google uses content as a means to advertise it's ethical. But if the website uses its space for text ads even if the content integrity is perfect, it's unethical.

The signs of an arrogant dictator are showing. Let's check out more.

Adsense Sharing Ratio

A million bucks for guessing this right. What is the adsense sharing ratio of earnings between you and Google? All other advertisers disclose this ratio. Which simply means that suppose an ad advertiser is spending $1 per click and the earning ratio is 70:30 between you: advertising network so that means for every 1 click you earn $0.70 and the advertisering network $0.30. Clear and simple arithmetic. In Google case NOBODY KNOWS THE RATIO. This is what Google has to say "Although we do not disclose the revenue share for Google AdSense, our goal is to enable publishers to make as much as or more than they could with other advertising networks." From a business sense profit maximization is what organizations live by. Suppose Google is so benevolent and loving and caring that it is paying above industry standards, let's say 75%-80%, then why can't it simply disclose this information. Most Adsense users would be more than happy to welcome this information.

So much for the supposedly openness of Google. As a practical tip there are atleast 20 other better advertising networks than Google through which give a 25% to even a 30% better returns. Google on that!

The dictator likes being closed but it forgets that Adsense is its bread and butter and tables in internet time turn in weeks and months not years as it has seen from its own and Microsoft example and yet is making exactly the same mistakes.

Privacy: Peeping into our lives

What do you call a person who peeps into others people lives? Peeping Tom right? Do you like a peeping Tom? Not really right? What do you call a company that has information on personal viewing, habits and many other personal details? The answer is Google.

The dictator keeps a tab on everything, even personal details. Google is doing the same. It isn't that Yahoo and Microsoft are any cleaner, users privacy sucks even with them. Consider this reference from Wikipedia "In its 2007 Consulation Report, Privacy International ranked Google as "Hostile to Privacy", its lowest rating on their report, making Google the only company in the list to receive that ranking"

Google reads your Gmail

If someone tells you your mails in your Gmail account have actually been mined and their content scanned, would you believe it? Well you as a Gmail user ought to have this much sense that it is true that's why those Adsense ads you see on the side of your email have been served based on the content of your email. Noteworthy is the fact that no human is scanning or mining your email contents. But the fact remains Google has access to information I am not sure if it really has a right to have?

Doesn't a dictator do the same thing? Remember the mail checking policy of Fidel Castro, Hitler, Mussolini and so many more. Now in its electronic form at an Internet terminal near you!

Google Chinese - eunuch search engine

Google has been is our icon. Two years ago Google did something that showed a flawed character and excerpts from my story I did for this newspaper.

Google, a company all of us idolize. Google, a company that has enabled lacs and thousands of small entrepreneurs, writers, and bloggers get their monthly cheques. Goggle, a company whose applications are simply amazing. Google, a company who we all prayed for, that it would ultimately win in the war of the giants. Yet on this day with my head hanging in shame I have just four words to say "Shame on you Google."

This company whose foundations were based on innovation, creativity and openness sold itself to a bunch of communists. The outrage is triggered by Google's decision a few days ago to launch www.google.cn - an emasculated Chinese version of the popular search engine. In keeping with demands from the Chinese government. Google's filters block out dissident literature, websites on computer security, anything with gay and lesbian overtones, teenage pregnancy, sites on dating and jokes. Chinese bloggers now call it the "eunuch search engine".

Having said that I find it noteworthy to mention a story that I wrote 7 months hence titled "Courage Returns to Google" when it refused to budge to a Brazilian demand for safeguarding user information. The act is courageous because Brazil is one of the biggest markets or probably the biggest market of Orkut, a prized Google property.

Is Google becoming too big?

A competitive environment is necessary for organizations to keep them on their toes leading to innovation besides caring and listening to its consumers. Sadly Goggle today is too big to listen to any of these. Imagine if the world only had Toyota cars what would it be like?

The Google experience in our lives today is pervasive. Says Colin Gouden CEO, Grail Research "Pervasiveness is what Google wants. So all touch points in between the consumer and Internet is where Google wants to be." The pervasiveness of Google can be gauged from the fact that Google today almost rules our Internet existence. Try and do without Google on the www for a single day and see if you can really manage it.

The Last Word

Have I turned into a Google basher? Considering this is only the 2nd bashing article in over 60 stories in 7 years I guess I am still a Google fan. But Google needs a change desperately. It's simply going the Microsoft way. History has been witness dictators have fun but its short lived. The arrogance and high iron walls in this era is simply not suitable for a company like Google. It took a few years for a startup Google to take on Microsoft. History doesn't take much time to repeat itself. In Internet time lifecycles are shorter and faster.