Friday, January 06, 2012

Google gives itself a red card

So to prove that they are a fair referee for search ranking, Google has given the Chrome team a red card and effectively banned the main Chrome page from the first page of rankings for 60 days.

I approve. If this were some non-Google site the punishment would seem out of proportion to the offense — there was only one link that passed PageRank and it seems pretty clear that Google didn't intend the campaign to create such links — but since this is Google itself, they do need to hold themselves to a higher standard. And hey, they deserve to be given a penalty just for the incredibly poor quality of the campaign: articles that say nothing about Chrome or indeed anything at all.

Will this hurt Chrome in the short term? I believe so. As a computer geek, I already use Chrome most of the time and I'd never need to do a search to find a browser. But I'm not most people. Most people reading this blog aren't “most people”. “Most people” don't know a lot about browsers and may well discover Chrome through a search.

Will this do any real damage to Google or Chrome in the long term? I don't think so. I think Google has responded well overall. As for Chrome, Apple and Microsoft aren't particularly interested in the web as such, so Safari and Internet Explorer aren't keeping up with Chrome. Mozilla has lost its way, instituting policies such as rapid automatic updates (like Chrome) without accepting the corollary that the updates have got to be transparent (unlike Chrome). I think there is a culture issue at Mozilla. And Google understands security better than the rest, with silent automatic silent updates for Chrome from the beginning and extra security measures such as public key pinning. Chrome has growing mind share due to all this and I think Chrome's market share will continue to grow for some time, or at least until a competitor changes path significantly.

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