You know, I’m really unclear why people insist on believing that Google is so pure and wholesome. I know that they claim the tenet of “Don’t be evil”, but c’mon, it’s a business and there are things they have to do.
Case and point from today: Google is paying Dell a LOT of money to pre-install Google Toolbar and Desktop on Dell PCs. The street hit them for it because it will add a ton to their customer acquisition costs. OK, I see that. Is it a smart move for them? Actually, I still think so; Microsoft is still in a great power position because they can get to the user before almost anyone else. This move is a direct attack on that position.
But Nathan Weinberg wrote:
We can say all we want about viral marketing and how great the Google brand is, but if Google has to pay a billion freakin’ dollars, then maybe that whole word-of-mouth thing isn’t working as much as we’d like to thing. Google prides itself on growing out of quality, but it looks like installations of its software aren’t reaching the levels they expected. I never thought I’d see the day where Google had to buy customers. This is exactly the sort of thing we’d expect from Microsoft, but we get it from Google.
What? We wouldn’t expect that from Google? Everyone in the world “buys” customers. “CPA” means “cost per acquisition” and every business knows what theirs is.
To think that Google is above “buying” customers is ignorant. Google already pays Firefox to be their default page.
To think that Google should ignore the undeniably massive Chinese market because it should stand for the freedom of information is naive. Very few corporations can, or even should, resist the temptation of the Chinese market.
Just wait until Microsoft really, really focuses on search. Just wait until MS passes Yahoo to be the second ranked search engine and is gaining on Google. Google will pull out all the “evil” tricks they can to stay ahead.
Update: Henry Blodget comments on the deal make sense to me. It will hurt in the short term, but may pay off in the long run. It shows Google’s paranoia, and paranoia is always a good thing, even if the street doesn’t see it that way.