It seems that for years, Google lived up to its old motto, “Don’t be evil.” This product also did no wrong in terms of superiority.
Google built its reputation as an ethical company that outperformed its competitors. But is that reputation still deserved?
One thing’s true: It’s been a bad year for Google’s reputation.
Is Google Indulging in Unethical Business Practices?
An antitrust lawsuit brought by a coalition of US states in 2020 and published in non-revised form last week alleges that Google suppressed competition by manipulating ad auctions.
Google uses “second price” auctions, where the highest bidder wins the auction, but pays the publisher an amount equal to the second highest bid. If one company bids $10 per click, the other bids $8 and the other $6. The $10 bidder wins—but pays the publisher $8 per click.
Google has been accused of lying about its “second price” auction and running a scam in which it pays the publisher the third highest bid, the second highest bid from the advertiser, and pays the difference to increase the bid. Changes so that the bids on Google’s platform will be lower than on competing platforms.
Google switched to a “first-price” system in 2019, but the lawsuit alleges that Google continues to run some version of the plan under the internal code name “Bulbasaur.”
Google says the lawsuit is false, lacks legal merit and that “as of September 2019, we are running a first price auction. [But] At the time AG Paxton is mentioned, ADX was a completely second-price auction.”
Another part of the lawsuit claims that Google conspired with Facebook to divide the online advertising market and weed out competitors.
That alleged plan included giving Google Meta (formerly known as Facebook) a preferential rate and treatment to avoid direct competition against Google in exchange for Facebook.
Both Google and Meta say that their arrangement actually improved competition and was not illegal.
The trial will take place no earlier than 2023.
While the allegation was already public, legal documents filed with the lawsuit allege that Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai “personally signed the terms of the deal” (as did Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, However, Meta is not a defendant in the case.)
The agreement was referred to internally as “Jedi Blue” at Google, a reference to the color of Facebook’s logo.
The lawsuit is one of several government-filed antitrust lawsuits Google is now facing in the US and around the world, most of which focus on the allegations, in favor of its own business and to oust competitors. misuse of their dominant position.
A class-action lawsuit filed this month alleges that Google illegally gives Apple a portion of search profits to stay out of the search business and prefer Google Search over other search apps. The lawsuit alleges a secret non-compete and profit-sharing arrangement between the two Silicon Valley giants.
These suits allege collusion with other big tech giants to oust competitors. But Google had ethical flaws that did not involve collusion. For example, it pulled a shameless bait-and-switch on millions of Google Photos users last year.
When Google removed the Photos feature from Google+ in 2015, it offered an unprecedented deal: free unlimited photo storage!
The free-storage option encouraged millions of users to upload a large number of photos to the service. And the Google Photos app encouraged users to delete local copies to save space on local storage, meaning that for most users, Google Photos keeps the only copy of the photos people use to capture moments in their lives. tend to – their children, deceased loved ones – irreplaceable memories.
But as of June 1 (after users uploaded more photos than they could reasonably download) Google refused that deal, setting a new quota limit for 15GB of free storage. (Google has introduced a variety of exceptions for individual Pixel phone owners.)
The free storage bait came with a catch: You had to let Google compress and degrade your pictures. Most of the users selected this option because they did not want to pay for storage. After allowing Google to permanently degrade the photo quality of everyone’s photos, many customers will eventually have to pay anyway.
(Note that the fine print in Google’s Terms of Service didn’t promise to keep the free unlimited storage deal forever. But users were led to believe it was so.)
Has Google lost its product-quality mojo?
A trend has become apparent with Google, which is the loss of customers in the early stages. For example, when the pandemic broke out and organizations sent millions of employees to work from home, the group video chat platform Zoom came to dominate.
Why didn’t Google have this location?
Google Hangouts was launched in 2011 as a feature of the now-defunct Google+ social network (the same year Zoom Video Communications was founded), and dropped out as a stand-alone app in 2013 (the same year that Zoom Video Communications was founded). Zoom launched as a product). Google had a huge advantage in both product quality and market share. But Hangouts changed its focus and purpose and target audience until it was killed by Google in 2019, just before the pandemic struck and turned Zoom into the indispensable business tool of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
This is a failure and should be considered. But that’s only a small part of Google’s total failure to dominate the larger world of person-to-person communication.
This fact was recently highlighted by Google in its criticism of Apple. official Google Android Account on Twitter complained this month that “iMessage shouldn’t benefit from bullying. Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let’s fix it as an industry.”
Tweet a. was increasing the link of wall street journal The piece complains that Apple’s iMessage interface, which displays green instead of blue to non-iMessage users, stigmatizes teens who have Android phones and forces iPhone sales among teens. To take advantage of bullying and peer pressure.
“Let’s fix this as an industry,” Google is indirectly calling on Apple to adopt Rich Communication Services (RCS), which is better than SMS but a decade behind modern messaging services like iMessage.
Ironically, only Google is in a position to “fix” the inconsistent messaging platform fiasco we all struggle with. As Ars Technica recently detailed, since Apple launched iMessage in 2011, Google has launched 13 messaging products — and killed five of them.
Google Hangouts, which launched as a Google+ feature the same year came iMessage (and two years later as a stand-alone product), was the perfect iMessage competitor. Google could focus on that one app, push its use across all platforms, and the world would have no need for iMessage and this tarnished green speech bubble. WhatsApp will not even be needed for this.
Google slams Apple for non-compatibility, but it can’t even manage to make a messaging app that works with its own messaging app.
Google has taken its smartphone business from the HTC, Nexus, and Moto X lines to the existing lineup branded with the Pixel label. The Pixel phone line launched in 2016, and the company shipped version 6 last October 28.
Google is one of many Android-phone makers that competes against Apple in both the business and consumer markets, consistently shipping a surprisingly high number of high-quality phones.
And yet, after all those modifications, Google is still struggling to make a hassle-free product. Pixel 6 shipped with annoying issues (and a December update that introduced additional bugs), inspiring smartphones affected Marques Brownlee will tweet: “My Pixel 6 Pro has slowly gotten so small since it launched in October that I can no longer recommend it at $900. With the latest bad update, it’s been a bad experience.”
Some users are complaining about sluggish and unreliable fingerprint scanning, phone randomly disconnecting from Android Auto, Wi-Fi unreliability and poor battery performance. Most problems seem to be pre-built software rather than problematic hardware.
One headline said it out loud: “Google’s Pixel 6 issues are causing a crisis of trust.”
When ethical and product failures collide
A recent incident suggests both ethical violations And product failure.
Last week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Google had infringed five Sonos patents, threatening to restrict the import and sale of Nest smart speakers. But instead of apologizing for stealing intellectual property and paying royalties for infringing patents, Google chose instead to disable the infringing features on which Google’s customers based their purchases.
google product serial killer problem
And, of course, one of the biggest sources of Google distrust is the company’s habit of launching new services to great fanfare, persuading its most passionate users to adopt those platforms, then shutting them down. Sites like KilledByGoogle.com list services Google has shut down. Even if there are good reasons to eliminate these products, their frequency makes users hesitant to trust or invest the time in a specific Google product or service.
The next major product to be discontinued will be an older version of Google Voice (next month), and with that closure, Google is eliminating some of Voice’s most attractive features, such as
Carrier Call Forwarding, Ring Scheduling, Do Not Disturb Timer and other features. (The new Voice app will retain some of the functionality of the old Voice app.)
The shutdown does not affect Google Workspace Voice accounts.
So, can we trust Google?
To me, the most interesting fact about all these allegations and complaints is that none of them affect Google’s business and enterprise products or customers.
Advertisers, competitors and consumers worry. But there’s no new reason for enterprises and other large organizations to distrust Google products in that space. In fact, it seems to me that we are seeing collateral damage from consumers to businesses moving slowly from the company.
Courts will remove legal ethical loopholes. Consumer demand will penalize Google for consumer product failures. But for business customers, Google is still an ethical and reliable provider no less trustworthy than it used to be.
How’s that for a Ringing endorsement?
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