inbound - 9:24 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)
It's clear to webmasters what Google is, and many can see that they have played the game very well. They have stayed in front in search (collecting massive amounts of data) whilst the web has gone from niche to mainstream. I think we are at a point, and have been for sometime, where we can only imagine a few companies ever to be big in search and this will mean that some webmasters will always be unhappy.
I don't like what all of the search engines are doing in my sector, but there will come a point, soon, when middlemen are squeezed entirely out of the equation - we've had discussions on that for a decade.
The important issue is whether the complaints of people will be heard and acted upon by policy makers (and we must remember that politicians are not known for their unwavering support of what is "right" - they go with what will win them votes). We are entering a phase where lobbying will be more important than "being right".
The enemy that we will learn to hate in the future will be the concession; politicians will seek "quick wins" that can be spun in a positive light, especially if those involve some monetary advantage that they can say they have won for their voters.
Let's look at the automated car, I bet that Google will "concede" that they do not manufacture the cars themselves (thus allowing politicians to claim a victory for the auto industry) - but licensing the technology and having access to the data is more than enough for Google. If I was getting heat about monopoly stuff, that's the type of thing I'd do.
It has already happened with Android; it's not a closed system (Google may say they want to support open source, and do in many cases, but it suits them not to be proprietary in many areas as this would be a big concern). The thing that Google does do with Android though is to do deals with manufacturers and networks to have their apps on devices - and users want those apps so it's not tricky for them. If the majority of people want Google search to be on their phone when they get it then it's not hard to defend the practice of putting it there!
I don't like some of the things that Google do, but I don't blame them. They are a business that operates in a flawed regulatory/political environment when we look at how it is able to cope with the challenges that domination of search creates (that's frameworks worldwide), and I expect them to use that to their advantage. I think they do some things very well, but I also think that they have made some questionable decisions that show a poor overall view on privacy and other things.
We must remember though that most people do not know or care about the plight of the downtrodden webmaster; many love Google for what it allows them to do with ease.