Google: Plusses and Minuses/Compare with Bing/Privacy Issues
Perry Marshall has a really good article about online privacy concerns, the Google experience yay and nay, and Google’s first real competitor in general search–Bing. It’s getting a lot of comments, including this one from me. I discuss not only transparency vs. secrecy, but also the Google user experience, talk about the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) I think Google might operate under, and point out the business opportunity that grows out of our society’s lack of privacy.
One point I didn’t make is that in dystopian-totalitarian novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, the very tools that provide information and entertainment also eliminate our privacy. While at least in the US, this information gathering has been used primarily for commerce rather than social control, the potential is very real.
The rest of this post is what I posted to Perry’s site:
You write, “Google has done a glorious job of doing what I encourage all my customers to do: Create offers that are so sensationally irresistible that you can’t help but use their search engine. They’ve beat all comers fair and square.”
This is sooo true. If ever there was an example of a huge USP, it would be Google’s. I don’t know how they phrase it, but it may as well be “we let you actually FIND what you’re looking for…in nanoseconds.”
And because they honor and deliver this USP, and because they were smart enough to make ads user-friendly, they have a vast revenue stream. But remember that search was there before ads, a couple of years before, in fact.
As pointed out above, we haven’t had privacy for decades anyway.
–>I feel the lack of privacy is actually an *opportunity* for entrepreneurs. Since we have no privacy anyway, why not run your business with a high degree of transparency and turn it into a marketing advantage? Why not do the right thing and be thoroughly ethical, and then demonstrate this to the world so they beat a path to your door? (This is something I advocate heavily in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First
Back to Google: my concern is not *privacy*, but *piracy.* Google’s respect for others’ copyrights is often in conflict with its desire to index the world’s knowledge. As someone who creates a lot of intellectual property (including eight books), it concerns me deeply that Google assumes the right to index first and ask permission later. I could definitely see circumstances where work created (say, for a high-paying corporate client) should not be placed in the public stream. Google claims to be and for the most part acts as a highly ethical company, but on the issue of intellectual property control, I disagree with their approach.
Still, I’ve been an avid Google user, because it does deliver that USP, and that’s something I need.
I wasn’t familiar with Bing prior to reading this article. Did a search for “shel horowitz” and saw very different results than Google. 1,100,000 hits versus about 23,400 on Google (a number that shifts daily between 14,000 and 54,000). Bing’s results heavily skewed toward big portal sites like Facebook (very first result) and Amazon Subsequent pages (I looked through page 3) include a lot of the blogosphere/podcast interviews I’ve done for others, and some of my major media hits. Only three of the top ten were my own sites. Google’s results skew heavily toward my own sites. I love the popup feature on Bing, and expect that Google will implement something similar; this may be Google’s first real competitor for generalized search. (For specialized search, I’ve often turned to Clusty, Ask, and portal-specific search tools.)
By contrast, on Google, I have 7 of the 12 results on page 1. Google itself has positions 4 (Google book search) and 12, and my twitter and Facebook profiles, along with a book review on an outside blog that was published this week, fill out the page.
GMail is still the best web-based e-mail client I’ve used, but that ain’t saying much. I vastly prefer download-based email such as Eudora. Surprisingly, my biggest gripe with GMail is that its search function is just plain horrible. Something you’d think they of all companies could have figured out better. My other gripe is that you can’t do much in the way of batch processing, and dealing with one e-mail at a time, especially over the web, for anything except delete is frustratingly slow.
Shel Horowitz, ethical/effective marketing specialist