Why Is The NY Times Running A Ridiculous, Conflicted Op-Ed Against Google?

from the mistakes-galore dept

Paul Kedrosky points us to an absolutely ridiculous op-ed in the NY Times from a guy who runs a price comparison search engine that offered little of value and reasonably was punished by Google for it. But the guy tries to make a federal case out of his own poor ranking, suggesting that the government needs to regulate Google because the company was so bold as to recognize that people weren't searching for his lame price-comparison site and probably would find others more appropriate. Kedrosky picks apart the piece brilliantly:
Gosh, what a shocker. Someone in search with no web traffic.... wants someone in search with a lot of web traffic, Google, to send his company buckets of visitors. Amazing.

The OpEd goes downhill from there. We get a litany of silly complaints, like the idea that Google doesn't innovate, that it just buys stuff from others, and that Google's Maps and other products have hurt other companies. Yeesh. I'll say this really slowly: Consumers want products that work together, simplify our lives, and solve problems. For this nitwit to want to throw us back to a world where we need point products -- maps here, directions there, product search there, email over there, etc. -- as some sort of full-employment act for me-too companies that can't get web traffic on their own merits is batshit nuts.
Furthermore, the guy's claim in the article that Google went out of its way to make his company "disappear" simply isn't supported by the evidence at all. Again, Kedrosky rips this argument to shreds:
Really? Google went out of its way to make a tiny product search company in the U.K. disappear? That would be a great story if true....

Trouble is, Google doesn't "disappear" other much larger product search companies, as a quick search for "canon prices" will show you. Up pops shopper.cnet.com, pricegrabber.com, and so on, as well as, of course, Google's own product search site.
If Google were really trying to "disappear" the competition, wouldn't it focus on sites that actually matter?

Kedrosky points out the other big problem with this OpEd as well. Despite this being written by someone who has a clear conflict of interest, he notes that you don't find this out until your well into the OpEd:
Of course, there is a second level of stupid to this piece, and that goes to the NYT itself. It took until the fourth paragraph of the piece until we find out that the OpEd author is, you know, conflicted in that he himself runs a search company (albeit one with negligible traffic). Not only that, he has an axe to grind, as he goes on in paragraph four to arm-wavingly allege that Google "disappeared" his site from its results.
It makes you wonder why the NY Times would allow such an OpEd to go forward. Kedrosky has his opinion: "apparently NY Times OpEds over the holidays are vetted by malnourished monkeys."

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Dec 2009 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Agree with the guy

    You Google cheerleaders think you're safe because you never offend the master.... until one day Google throws TechDirect out of the index for some made-up reason.. or no reason at all - after all, they're not obligated to give you any - and forces you to close up shop.

    Hmm. Why do you consider us Google cheerleaders? We've been quite critical of Google when necessary -- including when they have done a poor job communicating:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091210/1244447295.shtml

    So why do you consider us Google cheerleaders?

    But back to your point, if Google threw us out of their index, it wouldn't force us to "close up shop." And that's because we don't rely on Google for our business. Doing so is a mistake that many businesses make, but we chose not to. Obviously, we're quite happy with Google traffic and would be disappointed and seek answers to why and look to get back into the index, but we wouldn't run crying and screaming to the gov't to force Google to rank us more highly than Google felt appropriate.

    That's probably about the only thing that can cause you to rethink your position. Until then, as Google launches countless "branded" sites while depressing the ranks of their competition, you'll probably insist on not admitting the obvious - that Google is an out-of-control predatory monopoly that preaches one thing and does another.

    Quite a strong charge, presented with no proof at all. Very credible. Especially after the post itself pointed out how ridiculous that was, since other much larger searching shop engines are listed just fine.

    May be you are looking forward to powering your Google computer one day (if a certain Mountain View firm thinks you're allowed to do that) and seeing only one option - Google EVERYTHING. Search, mail, shopping comparison, travel, documents, travel, news, allowed thoughts....

    If there were only one option, what a great business opportunity for someone else.

    Personally, I look at all that and shudder. This is not what the Internet was supposed to become - one gigantic company controlling everything with a choir of brainwashed cheerleaders approving and applauding everything it does.

    Again, which "cheerleaders" are you talking about? And can you show me how we're losing options rather than gaining them, because I just don't see it.

    Irrational fear of Google is not compelling.

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