Google has some pretty typical tech giant roots. What began as a fledgling start-up, has grown into a behemoth tech company. Or, it was a tech company. Not so very long ago, Google was a search engine that was hell-bent on creating better search, and increasing the user experience of it’s search engine. Slowly (or not so slowly, depending on who you ask.), the user experience of search, and the quality of their search have taken a back burner to the more profitable parts of the company.
James Whittaker has a really good post on why he quit Google, and the loss of direction by the company. Directly, he mentions the transformation of the company.
The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.
Google, even from the inside, is no longer a tech company with a great product, but an advertising company. The once shining star product of that company, a search engine, has become beleaguered with a proliferation of the new product, advertising. For any search that you perform on the site, the first several results are sponsored results. Once, those sponsored results stood out from the rest of the results and were easy to bypass and move on to the “real” results. Now, those sponsored results stand out far less, and with the integration of Google+, it’s unclear what is and what isn’t a real, relevant result.
Has Google jumped the shark? I don’t think you’ll find it any secret that I think they have. They’ve always been borderline with me, but there comes a time when enough is enough. While I doubt that I’ll stop using all of their services, I think it’s time to start finding some alternatives to their products. Unfortunately, in a world where the verb “Google” is synonymous with searching for something on the internet, I don’t think that we can completely write their search off, but we can certainly start supporting their competitors (chiefly, Bing and Yahoo), until such a time that the situation changes. I’m walking with my wallet, and my data somewhere else.
What about you? Are you O.K. with Google collecting data and using it to maximize their advertising revenue? How much of the data that Google has on you would you be O.K. with potentially becoming public should your account get hacked?