Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Google Is Not a Search Company

Contrary to popular belief, Google is not a software company. Google is not a search engine company. Google is a web-based adware company. Before you stop reading because you think I'm biased towards Microsoft, hear me out.

Google does a lot of things. The write a ton of software, and they have a bunch of cool little web-based utilities and such. But don't for a second delude yourself into thinking that they are a software company with the intention of competing against Microsoft. No, my friends, their software is only a means to an end, and that end is advertising. Look at their aquisitions as of late.

  • YouTube: This was for no other reason other than to own the most captive audience on the Internet. Don't think ads are coming?
  • Adscape: Captures the 18-34 male segment, which would otherwise only be captured through porn.
  • Spot Runner: Rumors are flying about this TV ad-purchasing system, which is almost identical to the dMarc radio ad company they bought last year

Nearly 80% of acquisitions have been to gain an audience they're not currently exposed to. This has been said many times before: Google Search isn't about delivering the information you want, Google Search is about analyzing your search patterns to determine what matters to you, which enabled them to deliver relevant advertising. They need to be able to associate your search patterns with wealth of historical search data so they can make predictions on what you want in the future. And that's not just the universal "you", that's specifically you. The announcement they made about anonymizing your data? That was just a smokescreen, meant to make you feel good about something you didn't know was happening anyways. If what I said earlier wasn't true, they would be wiping personally identifiable after six months, not two years.

If you think Google is even focused on competing against Microsoft, you're dead wrong. I'm tired of hearing about how Google Spreadsheets is going to beat Excel, or whatever. It's not about that at all. If you want to know what a company is about, look at where their revenue comes from. Microsoft's revenue comes from business software. Almost all of Google's revenue comes from advertisements. And you may disagree with me, which is your perrogative. But if your revenue is based on advertising, then you're an advertising company in my book.

IMO, Google will not be satisfied until they can track what you do from the second you wake up in the morning until you go to bed, from what you look at on the Internet, to what you watch on TV, to what you listen to on the radio and in podcasts. And that's why I call them an adware company... because they want to bombard you with ads, no matter what you're doing. When Microsoft had those aspirations, they were lynched by the mob of public opinion. For some reason, ten years later, it's suddenly ok, because Microsoft is evil and Google isn't; it even says so in their motto.

Anyways, I've been thinking about that for a while, just had to get it off my chest.



  • Fabian Niedertal said:

    So what?

    Microsoft, I'm supposed to pay with license fees for their operating system (which I do not, because I feel comfy with my Ubuntu Feisty installation).

    Google, I'm paying with my search patterns. Which is a win-win situation for me, because

    1) I get relevant search results

    2) I get ads that actually match my interest.

    3) it doesn't affect my purse.

    4) as an Adsense Publisher, I actually participate in Google's advertisment success.

    You might reconsider if calling a MS competitor names that derived from a serious security problem mostly prevalent on MS platforms really helps to accept you are in fact unbiased on this matter.

    March 21, 2007 3:41 AM
  • Daniel Eder said:

    to "Fabian Niedertal"

    you are only partially correct.

    Businesses do not want to be tracked and most individuals don't want to be tracked.

    Most people prefer paying a small monthly fee and be save then be tracked.

    Products are not sold by ad impressions. products are sold by making a sale.

    Which basically means that unless people buy something through these ads the ads are worthless. So this revenue model will not work on all web based services.

    March 21, 2007 5:02 AM
  • March 21, 2007 8:30 AM
  • Chris said:

    Robert, "For some reason, ten years later, it's suddenly ok, because Microsoft is evil and Google isn't; it even says so in their motto."

    Actually, there are people criticizing Google, so it is not like Google is just 100% non-evil (look at the China related critique).

    Also, I think Google is a search company since search is really at the core of their products. Just calling them an advertisement company is not really enough.

    March 21, 2007 9:45 AM
  • Jake said:

    I could not agree more.  Everything Google does is a means for advertising.  Web based advertising is not based on sales, it is based on pay per click generally.  Google could care less if you sell something as long as you pay for that click that shows on the side of the search results.  Everything they do is to draw people to the search to make money off the advertising.

    Bottom line I am very glad to see Microsoft pushing their search capablilitys.  Sure it is full of ads as well but at least not everything on the internet will be found stricktly through Google.

    March 21, 2007 10:11 AM
  • TheBob said:

    Encore, encore!  This is good stuff.  I've been hearing similar things off and on, but more people need to just come out and say this.  I applaud you for that.  Now if I could just get of the habit of typing in Run every time I have to find something, I'll be set...

    March 21, 2007 10:27 AM
  • Chris, I disagree about search. The only motivation for Google to make their search better is so that they can understand what you want better, so they can show you ads you might want to see. You forget all the money that Google makes of the ads from their own search pages.

    March 21, 2007 10:59 AM
  • Kevin Dente said:

    Uh - is this news? That's what Google has ALWAYS been. Everything they do is a new channel to either a) deliver ads, or b) better figure out which ads to deliver. I don't think they've ever made claims to the contrary. They are a business after all - they exist to make money, and this is how they do it. This isn't any different than, Hotmail, or any MS web property - Google just happens to do it in a way more sophisticated way.

    >The only motivation for Google to make their search better is so that they can understand what you want


    The other motivation for Google to make their search better is to make sure they keep your eyeballs. If they don't have the best search, people will go elsewhere, and they won't be able to feed them ads.

    March 21, 2007 12:14 PM
  • Mihai said:

    I agreed with everything, up to the end, when you brought MS in the game: "When Microsoft had those aspirations, they were lynched by the mob of public opinion."

    Why can't you just let MS out of this? It is irrelevant to this story.

    And yes, MS being lynched was the right thing.

    Because (fast, from the top of my head):

    - Google stops watching me after I click on the Amazon banner. But the MS Passport (if successful) was able to "see" what is in my wallet, what I buy, etc.

    - I have FireFox configured to throw away my cookies. So "me" today and "me" tomorrow are different people for Google. But when I activate Windows, or subscribe to MSN, "me" is the same, every day. And I don't use gmail because of privacy.

    - Google is free, Windows/MSN is not. If I pay, I want privacy

    March 21, 2007 6:48 PM
  • If you think the "me" today is different from the "me" tomorrow, you're mistaken. You think cookies are the only way to track you? They have your IP address, among other things. They can still track you.

    I don't recall having to log into my LiveID when I activated my copy of Vista, so I don't know that that matters. And I don't know what country you're in, but not many people "subscribe" to MSN anymore. And since when is MSN not free?

    And hold the phone a second, what about Google Checkout?? HELLO...

    Microsoft is more than just Windows, and not everything at Microsoft costs money. That argument might have worked 5 years ago, but things are different today.

    And I want to know why there's a double-standard.

    March 21, 2007 10:27 PM
  • Yesterday I ranted about the fact that Google is an ad company and not a search company , and that improvements

    March 21, 2007 10:55 PM
  • Thanks to Fabian Niedertal (first commented posted) I have had an epiphany:

    Linux users are cheap, or maybe frugal is a less abrasive term...

    March 22, 2007 10:30 PM
  • Philip Elder said:

    Heh to Spencer's comment ;)

    I have found that there is a particular type of person deeply "religious" about their Linux distro and the apps.

    As a business owner, you have hit the head on th nail perfectly regarding Google.

    With the power behind Google's data warehousing, they can pretty much mine anything and everything to the Nth degree when it comes to a user's use of their Search and Ads.

    Remember their cookie expiry?

    They didn't have one of the most successful Tech IPOs in the last ten years for a reason. They are good at what they do: Serve Ads.

    What they do with all of the data that they have at their fingertips to mine is another story. As we discover more and more what they ARE doing with it, we will see whether Google is truly up to evil purposes, or just generating profit for their company and the shareholders.

    Philip E.

    March 23, 2007 11:40 AM
  • Will Brown said:

    I think that yes, you may be right, Google may be in it for the money.


    I also don't think this is news.

    I think you'll find that any publicly traded Internet-based company is in it for the money. Yes, Google preaches morality, but for the most part they practice what they preach.

    Personally, I would rather have a cookie on my computer so I don't have to type in my login name and password every time I want to get on my email. The longer the expiry time, the less I have to log in.

    The more products that I buy through Google Checkout, the better the products recommended for me through Froogle.

    The more I use Google Search History, the more personalized my search results become.

    Yes, I am fully aware that that means that I have a huge amount of data stored about me somewhere. And if it were any other company, I would worry about them selling my information to the highest bidder. But Google can profit more if they KEEP my data and don't give it away! If they have that specialized data about me that no one else has, they can romp in the ad sector, so they have two incentives not to sell my data: one, it goes against their "do no evil" campaign (which seems to be fairly distrusted here) and two, it's more profitable for them to keep it and not give it away (a motive which perhaps will be more welcome on here)

    So because of all of that, I trust Google with my data, and I have no problems with them gathering data on me, whether or not they use it for their ad campaigns, because all of that data goes straight back into helping me, the end user, find what I want.

    And you should keep in mind that not all Linux users have the cash to fork out for a pricey operating system. I'm a student running Linux on a cheap old used laptop... if I had any cash, I'd go out and buy me a Mac.

    March 23, 2007 3:10 PM
  • Mihai said:

    "They have your IP address, among other things. They can still track you."

    If you know how to configure your PC, the IP changes every time you reboot (and I shut-down my PC daily).

    And if you are behind a device doing NAT (which is always the case in big organizations), then all Google sees is the IP of the NAT device (which "hides" many people behind it).

    So no, if you know what you are doing, Google cannot track you.

    NSA/FBI maybe, working hand in hand with your ISP, but not Google.

    March 25, 2007 2:19 PM
  • Piotr Dobrowolski said:

    This post just made me angry. I'm Microsoft MVP as you are, but MS is not my religion. Just because MS fails to compete sucessfully with Google on the search market doesn't mean that you should express so much hate. It won't help MS to win the search war and leaves a bad impression that you are not being objective.

    I hate to say that but this post was a last drop - your blog is out from my reader. Maybe Dvorak was right after all...

    BTW if Google is advertisement company rather than software company why there are so many great MS engineers leaving for Google?


    March 25, 2007 3:19 PM
  • Simon North said:

    So what if Google is all about advertising, I don't care, in fact that in a way  is a good thing, at least Google make things themselves (actually they don't they just buy it) but they dont copy of other companies like Microsoft and put people out of business. Besides adsense has made many site and blog owners a nice sum of money, so if that isn't an advantage to advertising I don't know what is, I would sooner have Google owning a business than Microsoft.

    March 26, 2007 2:02 AM
  • MayoStudenT said:

    Google is one of the lamest companies I know about! (Along with Apple)

    Keep up the great work Microsoft!!!

    March 26, 2007 3:19 PM
  • Piotr,

    I'm sorry you made the decision to unsubscribe from my blog. And I'm sorry if I've ever given the impression that I have an objective viewpoint. I have never attempted to hide my bias towards Microsoft. BTW... what was Dvorak right about? Did he say something about me?


    It's been a while since Microsof has been accused of outright IP theft. And last time I checked, Microsoft had the most vibrant ISV ecosystem of any other tech company on the planet. So they're not putting companies out of business, they're doing quite the opposite.

    April 13, 2007 5:49 PM
  • Less than a month ago, I posted a rant about how Google is an ad company, not a search company . If you

    April 13, 2007 6:03 PM
  • May 22, 2007 5:47 PM
  • May 22, 2007 5:50 PM