In one of the worst editorials on CNN this year Andrew Keen, a man who once compared the social web to a "communist society", suggests US and EU regulators solve the "Google problem" (read: success) by filing lawsuits against the company and telling them what they can put on their own site. He makes the completely unsubstantiated claim that Google "undermines entrepreneurial innovation" and implies they are an impediment to the Internet of things being discussed heavily at Le Web. Mr. Keen writes:
As the future arrives on all our devices and "the Internet of things" becomes a reality, it is essential that this Google problem, which is undermining entrepreneurial innovation, is resolved. An Internet of things must be a place of all of our things, not just Google's things.
Google has been a champion of open platforms, net neutrality and data democratization. Their many excellent open source projects have enabled thousands of tech entreprenuers (including this author) around the world. They've used their money to lobby against laws that stifle innovation and free speech, fought censorship in countries that intimidated other tech giants and enabled thousands of small businesses to flourish by making them discoverable.
Mr. Keen continues:
And as Google products such as its self-driving cars and data goggles pioneer this brave new world of intelligent devices, it is essential that the FTC and the commission guarantee that the ubiquitous Google search engine doesn't degenerate into a platform for this increasingly powerful company to hawk its own intelligent products and services.
A company is using its own site to hawk its products and services? Unthinkable! Would I prefer Google make all preferential rankings clearly marked? Yes, but I don't want the government to dictate this to a company that is providing me with a valuable free service. If I don't like the way Google promotes some of their other products and services in search results I can vote against them by using Bing or Yahoo.
Is Google a perfect altruistic champion of all things good and holy? Of course not. Its a company responsible for creating value for shareholders, but as tech giants go, Google has done an admirable job of balancing profitability with being a good corporate citizen.
Mr. Keen and US / EU regulators: If you don't like Google's search results feel free to use Bing. Google has arguably done more to enable innovation, free speech and transparency than any other company in history. To suggest we are all suffering from a "Google problem" that is stifling innovation is the height of absurdity.
Photo by Joi Ito