I’ve had a few posts about Google recently that were somewhat critical. I think it surprised people given how highly I’ve spoken of Google in the past…one friend even went as far as to call me a “Google Hater.”
I thought I’d clear the air – I’m not a Google hater.
On the contrary, I’m still a Google lover. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
- They have the best search engine bar none
- They have the best advertising product/platform
- Gmail is great (although I also use Hotmail)
- Chrome is a pretty slick browser
- Google Maps is light years better than MapQuest or Bing Maps
- I’d love to get a Chromebook
- I use an Android phone and think its a great product, although it’s no iPhone
- Their story & company mission are admirable & inspiring
I have plenty of love for (most) Google products.
So why all the “hate” recently?
#1: Scrutiny is Good
Scrutiny is a good thing. Being critical is a good thing.
My friend Brett asked me to demo his new product he’s been pouring his heart & soul into developing the last few months, and said something along the lines of: “Be brutally honest. If something sucks, I want you to tell me that. If the whole idea sucks, tell me that. I can handle it and it will help me innovate.”
That negative feedback, if Google is listening, can help them. I’m going to be brutually honest, even if Google didn’t ask for my opinion. I acknowledge there is a difference between constructive criticism and just bashing them, and its a easy to sometimes take things too far.
#2: They have tons of products – I don’t have to like them all
Google has so many products its impossible to keep track of them. Some are awesome (Search, Gmail, etc). Some suck (Buzz comes to mind). Using Google Search doesn’t mean I have to use or like all Google products.
I think it’s important that Google continues to not force users to use all of their products, just because we use one or a few of them. While a Google account is required to use (most) Google products, I’d be upset if they forced me into an arrangement where if I want to use Google Search, I also have to use Gmail, Google+ and buy everything through Google Shopping.
#3: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Google tends to favor its own products in their search results. As they acquire more products, that bias will continue to be more pervasive. If they own the search results, they can influence you to do things and buy things that benefit them. This comes at the expensive of the little guys, start-ups, mom & pop shops, etc, especially as Google continues to expand and expand into new markets.
They market themselves as “don’t be evil”, yet they do plenty of things that are very difficult to describe as not evil, such as using offshore tax havens to save billions, anti-competitive acts against Skyhook, Google & Verizon’s proposal to end net neutrality for wireless devices, and so on and so forth. While I think all of these acts are business as usual for most companies, Google should hold itself to a higher standard, especially given that they claim they do.
Being the company whose mission is to organize & make accessible all of the information in the world, you have a great responsibility to be fair to everyone and do good.
#4: They have no customer support
I think companies like Zappos have it right – customer service is paramount. Gary Vaynerchuk hits the nail on the head that its all about the importance of customer relationships.
Google’s profits are insane – can’t they afford just a little bit of customer service?
The tale of Thomas Monopoly comes to mind – Google deleted someone’s entire Google Account, including all of his pictures, emails, docs, etc, due to an error that Google’s algorithm made in mistaking an image for pornography. Thomas had no one to contact and no way of getting in touch with Google about his account being terminated. It took a widespread social media outcry for Google to look into it, and it was only by a Google executive reading about it in blogs & twitter and getting involved that his account was restored.
I had my AdSense account deleted, and like Thomas, there was no way to contact Google or get any kind of support or even explanation as to why. Unfortunately, I failed to create a social media outcry, no Google executive even noticed, and I’m just straight out of luck.
If I’m going to use Google for everything, and trust all of my data in their cloud, I want some kind of customer support. My data & time is worth it to me. I’ll gladly pay for support, but not even that is an option.
Other than AdWords customers, I can’t think of any Google customers/clients that ever get to talk to a Google representative.
#5: It’s Fun To Root for the Underdog & Competition Is Good
Part of me just loves rooting for the underdog. As weird it is to call Microsoft an underdog, they are in the search market.
If Bing succeeds, or even if a new engine comes along and succeds, that increased competition will force everyone to innovate more. That’s good for everyone.
Google is great, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better.