Yesterday, Google released a major update to its search engine and drew the collective ire of the Internet. Dubbed “Search, plus Your World,” the change personalizes search results for people who are signed into their Google accounts. According to Google,
“Search has always brought you information from across the web. Now, search gets better by including photos, posts, and more from you and your friends. When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.”
Oh, the humanity! Critics have expressed hyperbolic alarm at the move, with many framing the release not only as an anti-competitive move with potential antitrust implications, but also as step towards aggravating non-techie, everyday users of Google’s search engine. Competitors such as Twitter even piled on with fake outrage, ostensibly in defense of individual privacy.
Yes, this is a big change, and Twitter (among others) has reason to fear the move (read: $$). But the bottom line is that Google desperately needs to counter the rise of social networks as competing destinations for ad spending. And don’t even mention Google’s paranoia regarding the likely release of a competing search product from Facebook.
So I ask, People of the Internet, with your brilliant strategic minds and obvious business acumen, what would you have Google do instead?
Would you have tried to make more money with traditional website display ads, relying on the good ol’ web to stave off the rise of mobile apps?
Oops. It seems like that wouldn’t be a good plan (Consult the chart from Flurry above).
Would you have advised Google to focus its efforts — and future profitability — on serving up ads within text-based mobile search results?
Oops. You mean you forgot about the imminent threat from Siri (And Kinect, and all inevitable clones of the two across all mobile platforms)?
Would you have told Google to leverage the unchecked rise of Android?
Oops. You mean Android actually lost 13 percentage points of U.S. smartphone market share last month, while iOS gained 17%?
So go ahead, dear Brilliant Business Strategists of the Internet, who obviously have an amazing alternative strategic plan up your collective sleeve, lend us your keen insights and sage business advice.
I’ll wait here.