John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Hear That? It’s The Sound of Google’s Rivals Quietly Rubbing Their Hands Together …

A few moments from now, former Google CEO and current Chairman Eric Schmidt will appear before a Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing to testify about the company’s dominance of Internet search, but rivals are already lining up to shoot down his talking points.

The latest to do so is Fairsearch, an industry group led by former Justice Department antitrust division leader Thomas O. Barnett. Fairsearch, whose membership includes the likes of Expedia, Kayak, Sabre/Travelocity and Microsoft, has pulled together quite a collection of material with which to balance Schmidt’s reassuring testimony, including a survey showing 79 percent of Americans favor the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust probe of the search giant and “A Guide To Google Speak,” which seeks to kick the legs out from under some of the company’s favorite talking points — things like “competition is a click away” and “Google built Google for users.” As Fairsearch notes, neither of these things is necessarily true. Competition can’t really be one click away when the barrier to entry is as high as it is in search and it’s pretty clear Google didn’t build its search service entirely for consumers.

“Google says ‘we built Google search for consumers, not web sites,'” Fairsearch argues. “The assertion may come as a surprise to Google shareholders. We think it’s fair to say Google search was built for advertisers, not consumers. Google is, after all, an advertising company. It doesn’t ‘organize the world’s information’ just to be helpful.”

Tough to argue with that, though Google certainly will try. It already has in a hearing guide of its own.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik