When I read this in the Journal today, I thought, “isn’t this deal already done?” Then I remembered that, no, it was simply discussed, but not inked. So now it’s official – Google is playing the distribution game, just like Microsoft does. From the (paid reg required) article:
Google Inc. and Dell Inc. have reached an agreement to install Google software on millions of Dell personal computers before they are shipped to users, said Google’s Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.
Under a roughly three-year pact, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., would pay Dell to have its desktop software for searching the content of a user’s hard drive and emails, and a Web browser search toolbar installed on the computers, according to people in the industry familiar with the matter. Dell would also set the default search engine for users to Google’s offering, one of the sources said. Financial terms are not expected to be disclosed. Talks between Google and Dell were first reported in The Wall Street Journal in February.
My take on this: I’m not entirely sure how to think about this, beyond the obvious. Sure, this makes sense from a business standpoint, but Google did not get to become Google by cutting exclusive distribution deals. It got there by having the best product, a product that folks literally climbed over walls to get to. These kind of deals are, well, pretty pedestrian – they are pay for play: paid inclusion, of a sort. And I thought that was not a very Googley thing to do.
On the other hand, it’s not 1998 anymore. Times have changed, and if Google is going to keep abreast of its competition, it needs to act like any other company.
Now ain’t that something!