It’s been a while since I said Google is a monopoly and after the changes I’ve seen in the last six months I think it needs to be said again: Google is a Monopoly.
I know. You’ve all been saying it for years, ever since Google passed the 50% market share at the end of 2004. They took over the search world and captured the all-powerful search advertizing dollar which has killed Yahoo!, Altavista and other search engines that couldn’t keep up. Though it seems, only recently, they are receiving any backlash for their success.
Why is that?
If Microsoft even looks at their operating system funny we slap them with a lawsuit so big they need to come out with a whole new operating system. Even then they have to pay massive dollars before they can get away with it. Google has only had larger lawsuits in the last 2 years or so, what about the previous six? What change in the market or Google’s behavior in the last 2 years is killing their reputation?
What? They just want to compete in the social sphere, what’s wrong with that? It’s not the dabbling in a new field that has messed them up. They’ve owned social networks many years before this. No, it’s how they shifted their focus.
Don’t be Evil
They used to be those guys. The ones who took the “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra we’ve been beat over the head with seriously. They seemed to say “yeah, we’ve got mad money, but we’re just gonna make cool stuff with it.” And they did. We got Android (a free operating system), docs (a free way to share documents), books (a free way search books), shopping (a free way to compare products), etc. (you get the point). The seemed content to just get the money from the ads they put everywhere.
Blood From a Stone
Ever since Google+ has come out they have changed their tactics. They now want to squeeze every last monetary drop out of every project in their portfolio. This involves standard corporate tactics to wrangle customers:
- How to get them here.
- How to keep them here.
- How to squeeze every dollar out of them..
Google had already answered question #1 when they took over the market. They added to this by creating Gmail, Docs, buying YouTube and making many different language versions of their search.
Deep search. Google’s monopoly allows them the resources to index like nobody’s business. Bing might have better search algorithms, but they will never have the obscure search capabilities that Google does. The first Bing search for something really obscure and you’ll be back to Google. Then they added more and more functions and services to their company to keep our attention.
Walking Bags of Money
This is where Google went wrong. People might be dumb, but we’re not stupid. Dumb enough to search for Natural Remedies for Cancer, but not stupid enough to miss self promotion. If you call yourself an italian restaurant and only serve pasta with white or red sauce, people are going to notice. Where’s the seafood? Where’s the regional flavor?
Now I’m hungry.
Sorry. Here’s a recent example of what I’m talking about: Google’s nav bar 8 months ago:
Nothing strange there. Just a bunch of ways to search for stuff that you might find interesting. Ok, how about now:
Completely different. The more general items relegated to the “more” box (right) and the only items that are not Google products are Images & News. I guess they haven’t figured out how to brand that, yet. This is typical of all Google products these days. All Google products must be a gateway into other Google products. This wasn’t a problem when it was Google’s non-search products selling Google. When they push it all through their search portal it seems dirty and wrong for some reason.
There’s the Rub
Been looking for it, eh? Monopolies are not inherently bad. Do you want 5 different water companies plugged into your house? How about multiple Police departments vying for your tax dollar? It’s only when those monopolies use their control to force other actions. Windows was cool, until they said “this is the browser you will use.”
Now it’s Google saying “This is the social media platform, email client, web browser, video website, data storage and online calendar you will use.” And we all feel a little cheapened by it.
More and more I’m hearing people looking for some other way to do the same stuff they do with Google. Here are some suggestions:
- Opera – Oldest browser still being updated.
- Bing – Try it out. The searches are better.
- DuckDuckGo – Another search engine, but private.
- Lycos – Yup, they’re still there. And they have email.
- Skydrive – Store your files with Microsoft for free.
Is Google a Monopoly?
Yes. Does that mean they are bad? No. My advice to Google? Pull self promotion off your search pages and don’t be evil.