Blake Ross, cofounder of Firefox, spent part of his Christmas explaining his dissatisfaction with Google due to its latest move: displaying “tips” (allegedly not ads, you decide; see screenshot below) right above search results that point searchers to Google Calendar, Blogger and Picasa for any search phrase that includes calendar, blog, and photo sharing.
Ross claims that this is bad for competitors and is a bad sign for Google. Ross acknowledges that Yahoo and Ask have done this before but points out that they didn’t build their businesses on the promise of being unconventionally trustworthy. Others are calling Google evil, a play on the “not being evil” mantra that attracted attention when the company first went public.
What’s especially distasteful is the fact that just weeks earlier (on December 7), Google proudly proclaimed that it uses the same ad system as any competitor to promote its products and services:
“It’s important to note, however, that our ads are created and managed under the exact same guidelines, principles, practices and algorithms as the ads of any other advertiser. Likewise, we use the very same tools and account interface.”
The part not mentioned is the simple act of calling something a “tip” rather than an “ad” allowing Google to use different guidelines and principles to have an unfair advantage over the competition.
I am no stranger to worrying about Google and wondering if, despite the aforementioned “not being evil” mantra, the company is headed into Microsoft territory. Though this time around it would be worse, as Google would get [is getting] the added benefit of being called hypocritical in the process.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Matt Cutts of I-work-at-Google-but-say-what-I-want fame decided to post his thoughts on this latest Google move. Interestingly enough, he claims to agree with Ross, though he really never deals directly with the trust issue or the part involving the Google statement made just weeks earlier.
Cutts whole shpeal revolves around the fact that these new “tips” are not very relevant or targeted. Well, that’s great that the “tips” should be removed due to lack of relevance, but what about Google acting hypocritically, Matt?
I agree with Google Blogoscoped and like how Valleywag’s Nick Douglas once put it: credibility is like virginity.