There was a time, not so long ago, when Google was beloved by pretty much everybody. It was a magic place, where farts smelled like sugar cinnamon and children frolicked with unicorns. And now everyone hates the crap out of it. When did the romance end?
For including a toggle switch that scans Google sites and puts the results in a tiny-ass link at the top, tech writers are demanding government intervention. This after Google got dragged before the Senate so its competitors could whine that it did exactly what they demanded it do in court. And it was a major target of SOPA and PIPA because the MPAA and the RIAA will insist until they’re out of breath that somehow, some way, all their problems are the fault of a corporation that just happens to have enormously deep pockets.
What the hell happened? Three things, actually:
#1) Google Stopped Being Perfect In The Eyes of Nerds
First and foremost, Google screwed up, no matter how you define screwing up. It could be their ongoing and kind of awful China problems, it could be the privacy disaster that was Google Buzz, or it could be you’re butthurt over Gmail’s redesign.
The point is, Google made mistakes. It was inevitable. The higher you go and the bigger you get, the farther there is to fall, and Google had, until recently, a streak of taking a web service that was good, but not great, and redesigning it to perfection. Remember Mapquest? Hotmail? AltaVista? Exactly.
But as you get bigger, it becomes easier and easier to squish anyone a little bit smaller, even when you didn’t mean to. And Google is, at this point, enormous.
#2) People Voluntarily Gave Their Information to Google, and Now They’re Upset Google Is Doing With It What They Said They Would Do With It
Part of this is, however, whining. People trusted Google because for some reason they thought it wasn’t an enormous corporation that specialized in information farming, even though, uh, it’s been pretty transparent about how it’s an enormous corporation that specializes in information farming. “Ooooh, their slogan is ‘don’t be evil!’” Well, yeah, of course it’s something that reassures you. That’s what a slogan or corporate philosophy does.
It’s hard to feel much sympathy for a grown adult who gives their information to a large corporation and then the large corporation uses it to sell them things, but that’s what people are screaming about. Protip: if you don’t want a large corporation to know everything about you, try to avoid telling them.
#3) Old People Think the Googles Took Their Moneys
One of the most baffling and technologically ignorant statements to come out of the recent SOPA/PIPA peeing match was the dearly held belief on the part of the MPAA and RIAA that Google had grown rich and fat from advertising pirate sites, as if that was their sole source of income.
Part of this is the fact that Google is worth a lot of money and we’re talking about two lobbying organizations that have devolved into copyright trolls at this point. But another part is that Google has become synonymous with the Internet, and for the technologically ignorant, that means they’re interchangeable. So, if you lose money because of the Internet, you should drag Eric Schmidt or Larry Page in front of your subcommittee because obviously they had something to do with it! They own Google! It runs the Internet!
“THE GOOGLES TOOK OUR MONEYS!” is going to be a rallying cry for a lot of industries as technology prepares to get more disruptive.
Because, realistically, especially in entertainment, it’s just getting started. True, the music industry has been forcibly changed by Apple, but the MPAA is just now starting to feel the heat as DVD sales decline and the most reliable pushers of physical media get into digital streaming. Television networks are beginning to realize that cord-cutting isn’t something they can laugh off anymore. Game publishers and console makers aren’t nervous about about a Snapdragon-powered television yet, but they will be when they’re suddenly everywhere and somebody else has cornered a huge section of the gaming market.
And this is just what we can foresee: mobile phones have created an entirely new branch of microprocessor that’s lightning fast and only takes delicate sips of electricity. As these things penetrate the market, who knows what they’ll wind up in, or what they’ll do?
So, yeah, the Google hate is pretty strong. But once they start costing other huge corporations even more money? Expect it to get just that much more intense.
(Image via psd on Flickr)