Google — the enemy? This weblog has just gone from being a Google fan to being a Google skeptic and is quickly on its way to becoming a Google conspiracy theorist. I just read this article from PC Magazine via Yahoo! News regarding the Google toolbar’s new “browse by name” feature that sounds vaguely “RealNames”-like. I use Safari which has a Google (at my preference) search field next to the URL address field. But this article implies that Google’s intention is to “default” the toolbar so that the “browse by name” option is presented as the preferred method.
If Microsoft tried to do something like this (gee, they did when they “partnered with” RealNames), the evil-empire critics would come out of the wood work. The same thing needs to happen here: If Google dominates the world, it will start acting like other evil empires always do. It will attempt to devalue the URLs and the branding investments companies and individuals have made in supporting those URLs with its own proprietary (and, oh-by-the-way, you can pay us and show up when people type in your competitor’s brand name) methods.
Re-reading the Danny Sullivan essay when RealNames closed down, I ran across this interesting quote:
Now imagine that Google rigged its toolbar — with millions of installations — so that any common words entered into the Internet Explorer address box resolved automatically to the top web site in its search results, an “I’m feeling lucky” resolution. Most likely, most people would hail this as a great innovation, given Google’s legacy of working for users. In short, two different companies could do the same thing, but given their public perceptions, the reaction from the public could be completely different.
That was two years ago, I wonder if “the public” reaction will be that different.
Update: Article by Searchenginewatch.com’s Chris Sherman.