John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Droid Has Landed All Right–Right on Google’s Homepage

“There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.”

Google Vice President of Search Product and User Experience Marissa Mayer

“People wouldn’t like [ads on the homepage]. We prioritize the end user over the advertiser.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, August 2009

Well, this is a first, I think: Google is promoting a consumer electronics device on its front page. Surf over to right now and you’ll find this pitch plugging Droid, Motorola’s (MOT) new Android smart phone: “The Droid is on sale now. Learn more.”


The text is simple and at just 42 characters, it jibes well with Google’s (GOOG) minimalist design ethic. Click on that “learn more” link and you’re taken to a mobile partners page that touts Droid’s Google-enabled search prowess. Only then are you presented with a big “Get the Verizon Droid Now” button that takes you to Verizon Wireless (VZ), where you can purchase the device.

So is it an ad? Google will almost certainly argue that it is not. But clearly, it commercializes the page. Droid is a consumer product sold by another company and Google is branding it on its most prominent page. Wonder how much that spot is worth.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to see Google leveraging search–a product in which it enjoys a de facto monopoly–to promote a second product that isn’t yet dominant (Android). More so, given this remark from CEO Eric Schmidt, made just yesterday:

“Hopefully, we won’t repeat the mistakes that Microsoft made 10 years ago that ultimately led to all these things that happened to them.”

I’ve asked Google for comment and will update this post if and when I receive a reply.

UPDATE Here’s Google’s comment on the Droid promotion via company spokesperson Gabriel Stricker:

We are currently running a homepage promotion for Droid. From time to time we include a link on the Google home page that points users to exciting and important information, whether it be relief opportunities in the wake of a tsunami or hurricane, awareness about an important cause, or information about a new product. The Droid is a hardware collaboration that we’ve been very active and involved with, so it makes sense that Google has an interest in getting the word out.

UPDATE Turns out this is not the first Google has promoted a handset on its homepage. Last October it plugged another Android device there, the T-Mobile G1.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work