Over at UK newspaper The Guardian, Google co-founder Sergey Brin shares his views on the future of the Internet, including web freedom and the restrictive practices of Facebook and Apple.
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Brin makes some great points, particularly about the ongoing battles certain web users of the world have due to the firewall nature of their governments.
But on other issues, he clearly drank some alternative reality juice, since he conveniently ignores the fact that Google are just as bad (if not more so) than the two companies he’s taking issue with.
Google’s Short-Term Memory
From the Brin interview:
You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive. The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.
It’s a point that most web users would agree with – yet it’s a point that Google seem to be doing themselves with their new approaches to how Google products interact with each other, and what you can and can’t do within Google.
Look at Google Plus Your World , for example, that gives more credence to search results with your Google Plus account, versus other social networks or websites.
Or the fact that Google had to “punish itself” when it was revealed there were a bunch of sponsored posts written about Google Chrome, violating Google’s own policy of search result bias (at least that’s Google’s story).
Kinda seems like Google themselves are a little guilty of stifling innovation and closing down the web, when they’re own platforms are given such prominence by Google.
Adding to that is something Brin says further in the interview, when criticizing Facebook for making it difficult to switch data to other platforms:
Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years.
Perhaps – although Facebook (currently) is a private company and, as such, doesn’t need to share squat.
Then again, maybe the real reason Brin is upset is because every new Gmail user is automatically logged as a new active Google Plus user whether they use the platform or not. Google is still seeing their social network struggling to find ground, so any extra numbers (real or otherwise) would ease investor burdens.
Pick The Right Fights
Brin also complains about the garden wall approach of Facebook and Apple and how this inhibits search pulling details about iTunes apps and Facebook statuses, etc.
This in turn leaves less information for Google to share with advertisers.
But is this really surprising, when Google themselves have been found to give preference to their own results and networks? Why should anyone else – especially a competitor – give over information that helps line the pockets of a competing company that gives bias to their own ads and services?
There’s no doubt Google is smarting, especially given the fact that Facebook continues to beat them hands down in pretty much every department, and Apple still has the upper hand in the smartphone and tablet market when it comes to hard profits.
But I can’t help but feel Brin is picking the wrong battle here.
There are many ways to counter your competition – unfortunately, examples of where you’re just as bad isn’t a great strategy…