I was struck by this headline from TechCrunch: Has Google Purged Places Of Yelp? All Signs Point To Yes.
The story is rather pedestrian – yet another dispute between a content and community service with the all powerful Google. Sure, it’s Yelp, but at the end of the day, it’s another company who has run afoul of the distribution giant, and is a bit confused by how things seem to be playing out. It’s like Google isn’t playing by the rules that, well, that created Google.
I think the question, which I’ve raised before a number of times (it was a chapter in my book), must be raised again, if only to force clarity on how we think about the role Google now plays in our ecosystem. And that question is simply this:
Is Google objective?
Before I wax for too long with an answer, I’d love your thoughts.
Ok, maybe I’ll wax just a bit.
Back in the day, Google was seen, as it is now, as a black box, but at least it was a fair black box. No matter who you were, your content or service was subject to the same rules as any other content or service. Entire industries sprung up attempting to charm Google’s algorithms into favoring a particular page, or content class, or service.
The premise was simple: Google may be all powerful, but at least it doesn’t favor any one partner over any other one.
I predicted, many times over, that this could not stand. Once Google started buying content assets like YouTube, or building its own favored “owned & operated” properties like Google Finance or Places, there was no way that it would happily and objectively cede its own distribution power to its competitors (competitors who, before Google expanded into content, were partners in a happy ecosystem of search).
It has always been so, in a way. Google is a platform, and at some point, platforms always build out that which most benefits the platform, for any number of reasons. Twas so for Windows, for Facebook, for Twitter.
But Google, many of us thought, was different. The holy sacrament of search is fairness to all that which might be available on the web.
So I ask you. Is that sacrament dead?
Seems to me, it pretty much is, no?