Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Why is Google so hysterically hypocritical about Bing using its public data?

Daniel Eran Dilger

The tech world seems to be briefly transfixed by the skirmish between Google and Microsoft, not over patents or profits but over accusations that Bing is using Google’s search results to improve its own. But what’s wrong with that?
Google’s Amit Singhai raised the situation to the level of a public hearing, arguing to the web with purported evidence that suggests that Google can unequivocally prove that Bing is referencing its search results because it explicitly published phony information that Bing subsequently presented in its own results.

Were the shoe on the other foot

If Microsoft were arguing that Google was using its search results to improve its own, this might make some sense. Microsoft has historically maintained the value of its closed software development and has rigorously managed to lock the world into proprietary, expensive solutions that it is loath to see copied legitimately or not by open source efforts, whether OpenOffice or Linux or Firefox. This is the Microsoft we know and love to hate, less so now that it is falling apart and must be pitied as an underdog.

But no, this is Google claiming to be wronged by the reuse of the information it makes publicly available. The company that says it does no evil and loves freedom of ideas and sharing free and open source software.

This is the company that made its fortune on a business model stolen from Overture, that it later paid off in an out of court settlement with Yahoo. This is the company that appropriated Sun’s Java platform and changed just enough to avoid paying Sun to use its technology in the development of Android. The same firm that then turned Android into an iPhone workalike in order to turn its partnership with Apple into a predatory research session.

This is the company that indexes blogs, newspapers, and both digital and physical books, and then makes all this information available without consent in the contexts of its ads and paid search space, and is dismissive of anyone who objects to Google’s ultra liberal sense of copyright. It generated controversy by driving trucks around the world to take photos of everything, connecting to WiFi base stations as it went to suck up random data it could use.

Google copies every original idea it can find, like a massive information sponge, sucking up business models and innovative creations and forming its own duplicates, often with little success. In the last year, its most obvious advances were copies of Twitter… and the revised layout of Bing.

Install the Google Toolbar and do a search of Bing, and Google actually directs your clickstream back for its own analysis. And really, that appears to be all Bing is doing, as it offers a similar option to record users’ behaviors and upload it back to Bing to improve its results.

Google is the world’s largest information thief, steamrolling partners, content creators and competitors alike under its concept of the wheels of progress, justifying its dealings as being a free remix and expression of ideas. That’s all fine and good if you don’t complain about other people also taking the information you publicly offer without a license and then remixing it themselves.

Shame on Amit Singhai

Google’s complaints about Bing are so grossly hypocritical that the company needs to issue a public apology for being self-righteously hypocritical to the point of inducing nausea. The entire affair is comically juvenile, not far removed from the sophomores who demand that commercial music and movies should be freely torrented, but then turn around in an apoplectic fit when somebody copies the HTML structure of their publicly published web site that they chose to make freely available on the Internet.

Singhai actually blogged, after going into extreme detail of exactly how Bing is using Google’s results to better its own, “Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation.”

He sounds like he’s describing, I don’t know, maybe Android? You know, the incomplete, stale version of iOS—a cheap imitation? That’s some ballsy hypocrisy.

“At Google we strongly believe in innovation and are proud of our search quality,” Singhai wrote. “We’ve invested thousands of person-years into developing our search algorithms because we want our users to get the right answer every time they search, and that’s not easy. We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there—algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic, relevant search results, we encourage you to come directly to Google. And to those who have asked what we want out of all this, the answer is simple: we’d like for this practice to stop.”

Oh hello Google, I see you’ve met the concept of investing work into something and then witnessing somebody else appropriating your ideas. Sucks doesn’t it? You know what’s worse? Doing that over and over for a decade and then making a stink to high heaven when you see anyone else do it back.

Shame on your pretentious, obnoxious, indefensibly egregious double standard in the field of using public information to turn a profit.

47 comments

1 scotty321 { 02.02.11 at 1:19 am }

Thank you, Daniel, for so eloquently writing up what I have been FUMING about all day long!! If only the other 99.999% of the web would have as much clear logic as you do!! Thank goodness you’re setting the record straight.

2 Fuchsteufel { 02.02.11 at 2:11 am }

I don’t agree with your logic at all. There’s a big, and widely acknowledged, moral difference between copying *ideas* vs copying specific *data*. Copying the text of a book or website, or the data of a media stream, without permission, is plagiarism or theft. Copying and altering/improving the idea of a story or a web service or an application is inspiration — and a vital part of progress.

Your accusations of “copying” toward Google do not make sense. Android wasn’t the first smartphone OS, nor was iPhone. Both copying, altered, or improved on previous efforts — and in fact, Android and iOS are really quite different experiences.

Google wrote their own version of Java, as have many other companies, because Sun explicitly made Java an open standard. No foul there.

And to say that Google “stole” this or that “business model” — come on, do you really believe that business ideas are proprietary? If so, shut down the entire web right now.

But directly cribbing text, or original data, from another website, and calling it your own, is plagiarism, not inspiration. Microsoft took results directly from Google — even if via their own tools and via users who gave their permission. That’s not playing by the rules.

3 mailjohannes { 02.02.11 at 2:23 am }

Thanks, I’m not a Google fan either.
Another point is that Google recently(?) tweaks its search suggestions regarding torrent searches. This seems a bit hypocritical too. It is also very alarming because Google tweaks its results because of pressure from movie and record companies.

Another topic: Daniel maybe you could create a RouglyDrafted magazine for iOS devices. An app, perhaps with subscription.
I, for one, would like to pay for that.

J.

4 broadbean { 02.02.11 at 3:38 am }

Maybe Amit Singhai doesn’t like what his colleagues are doing with all the copying and Android development either. :)

5 gkpm { 02.02.11 at 3:43 am }

Very good analysis, articles such as these are why I keep RoughlyDrafted on my top list.

The only thing Google has going for them is that they do provide a reference link to the information they re-purpose.

6 garbi { 02.02.11 at 3:52 am }

Brilliant!

Daniel, keep up with your excellent and well-informed (although too rare) articles. Hopefully your voice will help more and more people open their eyes on what google has become, in spite of so many wishy-washy and complacent comments by self-proclaimed web experts…

7 mightymau { 02.02.11 at 4:27 am }

i dont agree with you saying google is being hypocritical.
with android, they created their own and maybe copy some ideas from others to try to make it better. thats being innovative.

But with Bing they just plainly COPIED the result(which google worked hard to get) and passed it as their own. thats simply stealing.

8 DesperateDan { 02.02.11 at 4:52 am }

Spot on again Dan. I can’t believe how Google can get away with talking up openness=good, closed=very bad (until someone tries taking something of theirs).
It really stinks and the media ignores it while still slagging off Apple for not including Flash in iOS version 1, when it’s still not ready for mobile four years later (and several hardware gens later).
Maybe there is a lot of criticism but you just can’t find it when you Google it…
There is potentially a very interesting development that could come up over the next few years. Google hasn’t as yet had to be in a defensive position, it’s all been going swimmingly for them over the last decade, good news all round. What happens when the revenues start to flatten or maybe even drop? Will Google resort to Microsoft style ‘dirty tricks’, maybe blocking competitors from search results etc…? Will it start selling off access to the huge amounts of data its hoarding to ‘specially selected third parties’?
There are plenty of twists and turns left in this game.

9 elppa { 02.02.11 at 5:08 am }

We’ve invested thousands of person-years into developing our Multi-Touch technology and great interaction and interface design because we want our users to get a great experience every time they use their phone, and that’s not easy. We look forward to competing with genuinely mobile operating systems out there—mobile operating systems built on core innovation, and not on recycled ideas from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic mobile operating system, we encourage you to come directly to Apple.

10 sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 5:55 am }

“But no, this is Google claiming to be wronged by the reuse of the information it makes publicly available. The company that says it does no evil and loves freedom of ideas and sharing free and open source software.”

I don’t recall Google’s algorithm’s for search being “open source”.

[Perhaps you don't understand what an algorithm is, but Bing doesn't have access to Google's algorithms, so it doesn't matter. Bing referenced and incorporated public data that is not licensed with any use restrictions. - Dan]

“This is the company that made its fortune on a business model stolen from Overture, that it later paid off in an out of court settlement with Yahoo.”

Business models are now patentable? That’s nice to see you agree with this stupidity.

[Yes, obviously they are or Google wouldn't have handed Yahoo billions of dollars worth of stock to settle the matter. What kind of idealistic planet are you from? Are you aware Apple paid Amazon to license its "one click" shopping patent?

My reporting a fact does not necessarily indicate that I approve or recommend some aspect of reality as being in harmony with my world view. Unlike you, I'm able to grasp and discuss ideas that aren't necessarily in line with how I think things "should" be. I gave up thinking that my opinion really mattered that much a long time ago. How things are is far more interesting for me to talk about than how I think things should be in a world stripped of all natural constraints of reality. I suggest you join me in the real world rather than shouting out juvenile rants about how things aren't matching up to your synthetic "should-be" universe and how you blame me for destroying your fantasyland world with statements of fact.]

“This is the company that appropriated Sun’s Java platform and changed just enough to avoid paying Sun to use its technology in the development of Android”

Yes, it is a crime to take something, improve on it and call it your own. Nice to know that if I change the amount of brown sugar in my cookie recipe that I can’t be sued over a patent on the original amount.

Bad analogy? Perhaps, but if you support Oracle, you support software patents. I hope you are rooting for Mr. Horn’s lawsuit suing Apple, Nokia and others over phone operation .

[Well if you are a billion dollar company and you take a patented recipe and deliver a product that infringes patents and copyright, well then, what happens is you end up in court. Do you think Google does NOT have software patents? Again, more childish idealism.]

“This is the company that indexes blogs, newspapers, and both digital and physical books, and then makes all this information available without consent in the contexts of its ads and paid search space, and is dismissal of anyone who objects to Google’s ultra liberal sense of copyright. It generated controversy by driving trucks around the world to take photos of everything, connecting to WiFi base stations as it went to suck up random data it could use.”

Another story you still blow out of proportion. Google never allowed books in copyright to be fully available, and argued it is no different than what libraries do. While they still needed to change a few things, it isn’t the blatant picture you paint.

That last part about the wifi? Oh no, someone knows by base station ID. Kinda hard to hide it when I broadcast it, and hard for them to get data off my computer with a firewall in place, but, whatever.

[It's hard to take you seriously when you dispute reality by screaming about how a series of indisputable facts have select ones you can express a minority opinion against--an an opinion that flies counter to the opinion of courts around the globe. Seriously, you're rants here are simply emotional tirades. Come back with some rational arguments or just stay on DroidLife. ]

“The same firm that then turned Android into an iPhone workalike in order to turn its partnership with Apple into a predatory research session.”

Right. What form factor was the G1? And who had that form factor first? Does Android use the same app interface? The same notifications?

Sorry if it is a crime for Google to change form factors upon launch.

[Well its only a crime if it involves criminal behavior. Intellectual property theft is usually a civil matter, not a criminal one, unless you circumvent protections that violate the DMCA.

The point you are failing to grasp is that Google is being a hypocrite for calling out Bing for using its public data, when Google has borrowed from everyone else and that is the core of its entire business. Google would have been wiser to ignore Bing rather than put on a show of hysterics over something that is far less overt than stealing the iPhone's design. ]

If you really hate Google that much, why don’t you use someone else to fund your website of apple insider? People might take you more seriously if you do.

[Perhaps you don't understand how things work, but Google is no a philanthropic organization. It does not "fund" websites. It profits on ad placement, and pays back a sliver of those profits to content producers (such as me). Google MAKES MORE MONEY FROM ME than I make from having Google's ads on my site. OBVIOUSLY. They wouldn't really be in business if that were not the case. - Dan ]

11 v4rgh3s3 { 02.02.11 at 6:07 am }

Absolutely right.

Despite all its failings Apple is innovative. I am quite happy with the Apple being at the top.

Google on the other has had not one original idea since the search engine.

Completely agree with this article. Thanks for posting.

-VV

12 sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 6:22 am }

“It is also very alarming because Google tweaks its results because of pressure from movie and record companies. ”

This is because if they don’t they are liable for contributory infringment. Torrent sites are sued for this, even though they do not host the infringing content.

If google didn’t comply with the RIAA/MPAA (vs. how the piratebay replies to them), they can be successfully sued.

13 WaltFrench { 02.02.11 at 7:32 am }

“I am shocked, shocked!!! to find out that a search engine is … searching all over the web.” “Your results, sir.”

This is simple competitor-bashing. As another commenter said, sad that Microsoft, once the firm that the nation turned to for solid, well-crafted solutions, is doing an on-the-cheap, not even me-too service.

By this, Google deprecates trust in all other MS services. If the MS cloud is actually stored on GMail, if Zune actually assembles music on demand thru use of Amazon’s titles (both only slightly worse variations of this theme), then MS is providing no extra reliability for its costs, and Google can rightly help ITS customers smirk at customers who use Microsoft.

Nothing actually wrong with faux outrage, is there? It will deprecate Bing’s image, rising of late, to that of AOL’s.

14 kerryb { 02.02.11 at 7:46 am }

My take is Google is trying to stay on top of the search (ad revenue) hill and by dismissing any Bing gains as inaccurate and due to dis-honest methods. Google is finding out what it is like to be the new Microsoft. They must do anything to maintain their dominance in search / ad revenue and not lose it like Microsoft has with Internet Explorer.

15 MsJoanne { 02.02.11 at 8:11 am }

Wow. I’m not a tech genius or anything (I know enough to be dangerous),, but what you’re basically saying is that it’s ok to steal a BMW, place a Yugo badge on it, and sell it at a profit. MS isn’t stealing data, it’s stealing data that resulted from Google’s algorithm. There’s a huge difference. I’m not a lawyer either, but that sounds illegal to me.

And who knew that Android was running iOS. Now why won’t my iDevices play Flash? (While I’m not a tech genius, I am a big time tech consumer.). Oh, right. Android didn’t steal Apple’s code (I’m sure I would have read about that!)…which is basically what MS did.

Them’s some interesting (and ridiculous) words you’ve written here.

[Well Bing isn't stealing Google's BMW and rebranding it. Bing is asking customers what color of car they like, and Bing toolbar is telling MS that everyone is clicking on RED, a color Google has been promoting. So Bing began selling red cars too. Then Google published false information about making cars in the color burgle, and Bing was informed of this from its toolbar users and added that as an option too. Google then said, "AHAH, you are stealing our thought process because burgle isn't even a color!!" That's the proper car analogy.

Android isn't running iOS, it's running a modified version of the Oracle JavaME platform, which Oracle claims is infringing its patents and copyrights. What I said was that Android clearly shifted its design post-iPhone to become an iPhone clone, rather than the Palm/BBerry clone it was intended to deliver.

Bing in NO WAY STOLE GOOGLE CODE, nor is Google even suggesting that it did. It simply used public data Google offers on the web for free and without a license agreement. Google has, however, included code that did not belong to it in the Android project, which is the opposite of what you are maintaining. Facts do matter. - Dan]

16 SkyTree { 02.02.11 at 8:35 am }

If someone asks me a question to which I do not know the answer, I look it up on Google.

Isn’t this what Bing has been doing?

17 mailjohannes { 02.02.11 at 8:46 am }

| “It is also very alarming because Google tweaks its results
| because of pressure from movie and record companies. ”

” This is because if they don’t they are liable for contributory infringment. Torrent sites are sued for this, even though they do not host the infringing content. ”

Hmm, I’m not buying that. If Google stood for free unbiased information (or something close to that) it would have made a stand in court. The liability is at least debatable and a very wealthy firm like Google can easily defend itself with the first class lawyers they can pay.
This is more like China asking a friendly favor to not disclose the number of executions…

J.

18 ChuckO { 02.02.11 at 8:50 am }

@Sprockets:”That last part about the wifi? Oh no, someone knows by base station ID. Kinda hard to hide it when I broadcast it, and hard for them to get data off my computer with a firewall in place, but, whatever.”

Seriously?! The rest of your rant was idiotic but this is beyond the pale. If you don’t password protect your wifi network it’s perfectly reasonable for gigantic publicly traded companies to access the data?

19 sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 9:43 am }

“Seriously?! The rest of your rant was idiotic but this is beyond the pale. If you don’t password protect your wifi network it’s perfectly reasonable for gigantic publicly traded companies to access the data?”

Spend 5 minutes with your thinking cap on and explain how a vehicle on the move between networks will be able to pull anything of value off of a network.

Can’t come up with anything? Why not? Because it isn’t possible?

Of course only Macs come shipped with their firewalls off, unless they changed that, but even then they are behind a firewall with the router.

20 sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 9:46 am }

@mailjohannes, the whole issue I think stems from google not autocompleting searches for torrents and such (though it still autocompletes thepiratebay for whatever reason).

If you still press enter it still gives you the same results.

My point based on contributory infringement is based on reading many cases on RIAA/MPAA lawsuits, and that is the answer given when people ask why Google isn’t sued for being a torrent search themselves.

21 berult { 02.02.11 at 9:54 am }

“If you really hate Google that much, why don’t you use someone else to fund your website of apple insider? People might take you more seriously if you do.” sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 5:55 am }#8

Enhancing the stroke of a pen with the sound track of a trumpet graces any truth with a rhetorical pleonasm in lieu of ascertaining metaphor; you care for the truth to be heard as loud as it be read unequivocally. 

Dilger simply wishes his words of record be stinging to the fools, with no slander or prejudice to me …therefore to the truth. Never has a wish come as close as coming true, …such as it truly has for you.

22 gkpm { 02.02.11 at 10:10 am }

sprockkets oh come down from your high horse, at least on the Wifi business. Even Google has admitted they were wrong and shouldn’t have been storing or even capturing that information.
If you can’t see value on it, consider staying a bit longer with that thinking cap on… Personally I wouldn’t mind too much if somehow I happened to catch even just a glimpse of it.
And what are you on about firewalls, what’s the point if you have no exposed vulnerable external services. Go read a networking book or something.

23 John E { 02.02.11 at 10:34 am }

ah, Dan, tell us what you really think about Google!

maybe the worst of it all is how stupidly the technocrati have fallen for Google’s blatant BS. talk about a Reality Distortion Field! Talk about Drinking the Kool-Aide!! because, It’s Open!!! they like a bunch of spoiled little kids who still believe in Santa Claus – in fact, think Santa’s freebies are their moral right – and think Google is it.

24 sprockkets { 02.02.11 at 11:28 am }

“And what are you on about firewalls, what’s the point if you have no exposed vulnerable external services. Go read a networking book or something.”

Uh, try something like CUPS, which routinely has security updates. It should be in its own account, but that doesn’t excuse Apple from such an oversight.

25 schwabsauce { 02.02.11 at 1:05 pm }

Breaking the law and hypocrisy are par for the course, don’t be surprised just because Google says “don’t be evil”. In fact, a motto like this virtually guarantees that they will whitewash all the moral gray area they get into and utterly misunderstand their own ethical idiocy.

This reaction is intended as nothing more than some free advertising for the fact that MS apparently thinks Google’s results are pretty good, a year after saying they suck.

What I’m curious about is: can I write an app that publishes peoples’ newsletters without getting into legal trouble?

26 schwabsauce { 02.02.11 at 1:08 pm }

although now that I think about it – this post from Amit is dangerous because it could be used against Google in court – showing that they know that what they do is wrong

27 Maniac { 02.02.11 at 1:14 pm }

…”Google copies every original idea it can find, like a massive information sponge, sucking up business models and innovative creations and forming its own duplicates, often with little success. “…

That sounds like Microsoft 10 or 12 years ago. It didn’t matter whether a new product succeeded or not. Microsoft just wanted to crush young, vulnerable start-ups with great ideas.

And now Google is doing the same thing. So much for “Don’t be evil.”

28 schwabsauce { 02.02.11 at 1:15 pm }

especially since the courts seem to take whatever Google says as the law!

29 gus2000 { 02.02.11 at 1:19 pm }

I live in the hellishly-hot Texas, and today I can go out and throw a snowball.

Also today, Daniel Eran Dilger has sided with Microsoft.

Coincidence?

[I don't know if I'm "siding" with MS yet, but maybe: they just announced H.264 for Chrome ha. But really, it's more like chastising the US for being critical of foreign free speech crackdowns after Wikileaks, or making a production of foreign civil rights issues after sponsoring global torture camps.

It's even worse than that: Google is more like Glenn Beck taking a dramatically critical stance on torture in China after making the torture of infidels his battle cry since 9.11. If you are evil, you should stick to being evil, not make a pretense of righteousness. Dan]

30 unhinged { 02.02.11 at 5:13 pm }

@elppa: That made me laugh. Good one!

@sprockkets: Where do I begin?

> I don’t recall Google’s algorithm’s for search being “open source”.
Microsoft has not copied the algorithm, they have copied the results. These results are published in HTML as a service to the wider community; the service is paid for by the various advertisements that accompany the results. Google does not assert copyright on the search results, therefore I would be surprised if the Bing behaviour is illegal.

Let’s reduce this to an abstract – I have an application that loads a web page, isolates the required data and then processes and publishes that data to an audience. This is one of the many ways the web works, one of the many reasons why the web is useful and IS EXACTLY WHAT GOOGLE DOES TO GENERATE ITS SEARCH RESULTS.

I think that the label of hypocrisy is fairly applied in this case.

> “This is the company that made its fortune on a business model stolen from Overture, that it later paid off in an out of court settlement with Yahoo.”

> Business models are now patentable? That’s nice to see you agree with this stupidity.

Google paid up to Yahoo because it was cheaper than the penalty they expected to receive from the courts. This statement is in the article because it is evidence that Google copies things from others and only pays when forced to; I think your argument that DED agrees with the legal system is tenuous.

> “This is the company that appropriated Sun’s Java platform and changed just enough to avoid paying Sun to use its technology in the development of Android”

> Yes, it is a crime to take something, improve on it and call it your own. Nice to know that if I change the amount of brown sugar in my cookie recipe that I can’t be sued over a patent on the original amount.

Was Dalvik an improvement? I have no idea about the technical capabilities.

> Bad analogy? Perhaps, but if you support Oracle, you support software patents.
Sigh. http://www.ibiblio.org/patents/txt/020294.txt

> Google never allowed books in copyright to be fully available, and argued it is no different than what libraries do. While they still needed to change a few things, it isn’t the blatant picture you paint.
Agreed. It is worth noting, however, that libraries purchase the copies of the books they share with their members and if you want to make a copy of a library book you are spending an awful lot of time scanning (unless it’s an e-book).

> That last part about the wifi? Oh no, someone knows by base station ID. Kinda hard to hide it when I broadcast it, and hard for them to get data off my computer with a firewall in place, but, whatever.
OK, for _you_ it’s not an issue. For the people who had their data accessed _illegally_ it is an issue. If I check every house in the street for an unlocked access point and go in to the homes that are not properly secured and take pictures of what I see, some people will be OK with it and some will not – but it’s still illegal, and the pictures I took are a blatant disregard for another’s privacy. Google’s actions are an extension of the elitist attitude that “stupid and/or ignorant people deserve what happens to them, because if they valued these things enough they’d put in the effort to learn how to protect themselves, and since they didn’t they obviously don’t care.” In case it’s not obvious, I disagree with that attitude.

> “The same firm that then turned Android into an iPhone workalike in order to turn its partnership with Apple into a predatory research session.”

> Right. What form factor was the G1? And who had that form factor first? Does Android use the same app interface? The same notifications?

Well, a quick Google search reveals that the G1 was reviewed by a number of shops on 23rd September 2008. I guess that means the iPhone was first with the form factor. Android has different implementations from iOS and Windows has different implementations from MacOS – but you’d be hard pushed to successfully argue that Android and Windows are not imitations of the originals.

> If you really hate Google that much, why don’t you use someone else to fund your website of apple insider? People might take you more seriously if you do.

Actually, one of the fundamentals of journalism is that ones funders are not immune from objective criticism. You might want to rethink your stance on this one.

> Of course only Macs come shipped with their firewalls off, unless they changed that, but even then they are behind a firewall with the router.

Yeeaahhh… this is getting back to the elitist attitude I mentioned earlier. I’m influenced by my personal experience over the past thirty years with computers, and I’m not going to search for the facts on Mac firewall settings because I’ve already spent too long on this, but I will give you my opinion: Macs have been historically more focussed on being secure out of the box, taking the attitude that if you want to turn on a potentially vulnerable service you are going to devote the time to knowing the risks and how to minimise them. Windows took the attitude that you should be able to do everything out of the box without having to enable a service (this has changed in the recent past). Linux… well, I don’t know enough about Linux to comment. I can’t justify the investment of my efforts to learn about a tool that is unlikely to be more than 10% better _for me_ than my current tools.

@MsJoanne:

> Wow. I’m not a tech genius or anything (I know enough to be dangerous),, but what you’re basically saying is that it’s ok to steal a BMW, place a Yugo badge on it, and sell it at a profit. MS isn’t stealing data, it’s stealing data that resulted from Google’s algorithm. There’s a huge difference. I’m not a lawyer either, but that sounds illegal to me.

I don’t read anywhere in the article where it says the behaviour is OK, just that Google is being hypocritical for complaining when its own tactics are being used against it. And, continuing from my point above, if Google could prove that Microsoft’s actions are illegal, the headlines would be “Google sues Microsoft for poaching search results” and not “Google complains about Microsoft poaching search results.”

> And who knew that Android was running iOS. Now why won’t my iDevices play Flash? (While I’m not a tech genius, I am a big time tech consumer.). Oh, right. Android didn’t steal Apple’s code (I’m sure I would have read about that!)…which is basically what MS did.

Please allow me to educate you: Google, to avoid having to pay license fees to Sun (then-owner of Java), created its own version of the Java VM (basically, software that allows Java code to run) and incorporated that into Android. Oracle (who bought Sun and now own Java) are alleging that this was illegal.

Microsoft copied the Mac and was ruled to have done it legally because of the license agreement between Apple and Microsoft that was ruled to be ambiguous enough to allow the activity.

The article does not claim that Android is “running” iOS, it claims that Android is an “iPhone workalike” – a copy of the ideas and some of the implementations. Android is a clearly different product, but it has copied the touch interface brought to market by the iPhone.

Adobe’s Flash has failed to satisfy the technical requirements that Apple have laid forth for allowing its use on iOS, and that’s why your iDevices don’t make use of it. Apple hires very bright people and funds their research properly, so I’m happy to accept their judgement on this one.

> Them’s some interesting (and ridiculous) words you’ve written here.
There are times when less is better.

31 marsviolet { 02.02.11 at 8:56 pm }

I could listen to sprockkets for hours.…

32 nmoore41 { 02.02.11 at 10:05 pm }

Excellent article detailing Patent Settlemetn between Overture (Yahoo) and Google; highly recomended read- http://www.techuser.net/gcoverup.html (found it using Bing :) )

33 sagescape { 02.03.11 at 8:01 am }

I couldn’t agreet more. As I argue over at my blog Legally Sociable (http://legallysociable.com/2011/02/03/found-hypocrisy-still-searching-for-clarity/), it is the legal uncertainty surrounding copyright law–particularly fair use–that make these sort of public accusations possible. That may be OK for multi-billion dollar companies that can take care of themselves, but it’s actually quite lethal to cash-strapped start-ups trying to decide how close to come to the “line”.

Until there’s more clarity in copyright law, the Fortune 500 will circle and hiss at each other, and the smaller guys will mostly get shut out.

34 pa { 02.03.11 at 7:31 pm }

@SkyTree,
“If someone asks me a question to which I do not know the answer, I look it up on Google.

Isn’t this what Bing has been doing?”
Not at all. Bing is simply incorporating pertinent information that its IE users have clicked on whilst searching for answers to the same question. Bing does not directly perform a search on google and display the result.

35 dallasmay { 02.04.11 at 7:18 am }

*sigh*

Daniel,
You are like the Angry Atheist that spends more time talking about GOD than most Christians or Muslims. Once again, you harshly criticize Google. Any particular reason? No, they were just in the news today, about something.

Daniel’s just pissed because the market has proven him to be a fool. He bet that Apple’s iPhone would become the world information superpower and would bring peace on earth for all under the eternal reign of the Lord, Steve Jobs.

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/08/25/will-googles-android-play-dos-to-apples-iphone/

[Did you actually read this article from 2008, or just look at the title? Because it reads today like a prescient, perfectly accurate in hindsight look at exactly what has happened in the last two and a half years since. I dare you to find anything from 2008 that similarly outlines exactly what was about to happen in great detail over the next few years. Every problem I outlined for Android has occurred. The very same licensees that fumbled PFS are now profitless with Android.

I am at a loss to understand what is stuffing you so full of arrogance that you would attack me for handing you a free look into the future and demand I apologize that you still just don't get it. -Dan ]

We’ll see how things break out in the next few quarters. Maybe, just maybe, people actually bought their android phones because they are really neat phones, and not because of some fear of switching carriers. Let the market work. I just switched to Virgin Mobile and picked up an LG Android phone for $150+25/month. And it’s a really sweet phone. Nice upgrade from my 2.5 year old iPhone 3G.

Stop being a pussy, admit you were wrong about android, and watch the free market work as it was intended.

[Prior to the Year of Android: 2010, you could have done the same thing with a non-Android LG phone. And you still can. So what great new world has Google ushered in, apart from transferring a massive amount of Western intellectual property to China via FOSS with the intent (not yet accomplished) of expanding its mobile ad space? It hasn't.

I mean, thanks for the lack of respect and the name calling, but if you think I'm wrong in this respect, I don't think you've realized what's happening yet. - Dan ]

36 gctwnl { 02.04.11 at 8:14 am }

Quite a few people here in the comments section (including Dan) use the argument that Microsoft does not have access to Google’s algorithms, but only the results that come from that.

Whatever the legal nitpicking, in the logical world of algorithms (and the data that they are used on, let’s not forget that), having access to the results of an algorithm for all inputs in effect gives you access to the algorithm. You don’t know how it works, but you don’t need to as someone else is running it for you.

Suppose I start a website called lamesearch. And instead of using my own algorithms at all, I would just pass them on to Google and get those free results and publish them on my own site as if they were mine. I would however strip Google’s ads and supported links and plug in my own. That wouldn’t be ok, would it?

As an additional legal tidbit, this is what Google’s terms of service say:

5.5 Unless you have been specifically permitted to do so in a separate agreement with Google, you agree that you will not reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade or resell the Services for any purpose.

I wonder if using the IE user’s actions on Google by Bing would hold up. This looks like a minefield for me.

[Well if Bing were simply rebranding Google's search results as its own, there might be some reason for disdain. That's not what happened however.

What really happened was that Google was invited to a conference and asked why its search results are so full of spam being monetized by Google, and put on the hot seat to explain why it was happily profiting from the destruction of the web, and Google changed the subject to accuse Bing of being contaminated with fake results Google had intentionally seeded to it through Bing toolbar users.

The problem here is that Google has effectively upset people who don't know what's going on and prejudiced them against Bing while distracting all attention away from the actual issue being raised.

If this seems familiar, you may be thinking about how Republicans turn every debate about education, the environment, national infrastructure and other core issues of importance into a pointless argument about gay marriage and abortion.

Like Google, thay know there is no progress to be made with those red herring issues, but that there is great distraction potential for large audiences of emotional driven, easily distracted simpletons.

And the media jumps to discuss how bad Bing is for "stealing" Google's search results (look here's facts!!!) when in reality, Bing hardly matters and everyone is steered away from questioning why Google's search results are pointing billion of web users at garbage results that happen to send lots of money to Google. - Dan]

37 gctwnl { 02.04.11 at 8:15 am }

“to me” not “for me” of course

38 scottkrk { 02.04.11 at 6:29 pm }

I can’t wait for Apple to release its PA based on the Siri acquisition. Users will interface with the PA interface and search engines like Google and Bing will simply be a fallback background service.

I can’t wait to see the stink Google makes about this, when the advertising cash cow comes under threat.

Like Bill Gates before him I think Eric Schmidt choose the right time to step-down from the CEO position, best to end on a high before the inevitable decline.

39 gslusher { 02.05.11 at 1:00 am }

@scottkirk:

Jobs told Walt Mossberg that Siri isn’t about search, at all, nor is Apple interested in going into the search business. Siri, according to Jobs, is really about AI and that’s what Apple intends to use the Siri technology and expertise for. Siri is about using plain language (e.g., spoken) to get results from the computer. Their demonstration seemed to use a form of “search,” but it didn’t. Instead, it used various online databases (e.g., lists of restaurants). For instance, you could ask it (in plain language), “What’s a good Thai restaurant in this area?” Siri could look up Thai restaurants within some reasonable distance of your location and also look at reviews, menus & prices, etc, then propose some restaurant(s). When you made your choice, it would make reservations and get directions, knowing whether you would be walking, driving, taking public transit or taxi, etc. You could ask it to make reservations for a trip to New York next Thursday. Siri would know your preferences for departure time, airlines, meals, etc, and put together an interary and make the reservations, buy the tickets, etc. IOW, Siri could do what a human personal assistant could do. The other possibilities are almost endless. You might ask it to find and print the document you were working on yesterday afternoon.

As the Siri folks, themselves, say, Siri is your “virtual personal assistant.” See

http://siri.com/

It’s definitely NOT about search.

40 gctwnl { 02.05.11 at 7:24 am }

@gslusher:
I’d hate to see Apple fall in the same AI trap that Microsoft (esp. Bill Gates) fell for. MS spent billions on AI without anything resembling a usable result (and with exactly the sort of goals you describe). Though the envelope can be pushed a little bit at a time, a true AI is in my opinion impossible using digital technology (for fundamental reasons). What often can be done is doing smart things with a thorough restriction of the ‘subject space’. See

http://siri.com/about/

for their restrictions (which are serious, they can do roughly 6 well-defined things, like ask for the weather in a place). Increasing the ‘subject space’ is where it mostly breaks down. So, going from the 6 things that are there to the kind of things you describe is exactly what has been promised over and over again for 50 years and that for 50 years have broken down again and again. IMO: for fundamental reasons.

The moment Apple decides to spend a lot of energy on AI instead of user experience is the moment they copy Microsoft of the 90′s-00′s and is the moment I sell my stock :-)

As an aside: Hubert Dreyfus’ seminal book “What Computers (Still) Can’t Do” contains a brilliant analysis why we in our culture tend to fundamentally believe in the promises of AI (we cannot imagine that it can’t be done) regardless of the facts and why we tend to be not critical when regarding AI.

41 rahulgangwar { 02.05.11 at 8:43 am }

Ha Ha Ha Interesting.
When people say that it is okay to steal data if your firewall is not correct then I can understand what kind of culture they support.

When people say that copying idea and data is different and conveniently surf you tube to see stuff for free that they are not supposed to then it is easy to assimilate why they justify Google.

Hey BTW should Microsoft blog about why Orkut still has an .aspx extension? Or should it leave because anyway it was not their idea! Maybe Google lacks some money here to change Orkut not using ASP.NET or lacks some innovation to create their own web platform.

42 berult { 02.05.11 at 8:47 am }

scottkrk, slushier

Siri wouldn’t compete with a Google-like search algorithm. AI types searches need to off-load the complexities of quest/request undertakings from the end user to a convivial, unencumbered, and unmitigated process. 

Succinctly, AI takes search through a streamlining process. The Google-like ad and inherent bias appendices are meant to be rendered as non sequiturs by a user-centric algorithmic tool, with potential for infinite calibration to fit the particular use of the moment.

So, AI IS indeed search, just not a service provider-centric search apparatus. In typical Apple fashion, an end-user biased, subjective, talk-and-touch friendly, precision search instrument that supersedes the present all too cumbersome fool’s errant.

Right now, Google and Microsoft take the load off your search mode and process it into their bottom lines along with much of your user’s bequest. It’s about “Apple-set” to be sub contracted to an augmented, ad free you and me, …bypassing search engines’ controlled, monopolistic and heavily monetized Internet entry points in the process.

Apple sells a commoditized whole as a sum of non-commoditized parts. Google sells a commoditized hole as a sum of commoditized parts.

43 infoawl.com { 02.05.11 at 11:00 am }

Why is Google so hysterically hypocritical about Bing using its public data?…

The tech world seems to be briefly transfixed by the skirmish between Google and Microsoft, not over patents or profits but over accusations that Bing is using Google’s search results to improve its own. But what’s wrong with that?…

44 dallasmay { 02.05.11 at 5:12 pm }

Dan,

Maybe, I don’t know what’s going on, but let me ask you a few questions.

What value does the iPhone bring ATT or Verizon now that there is no exclusivity? Ever think about that? Sure Verizon is going to advertise the heck out of the iPhone for a month or so to make sure everyone knows it’s not just an ATT specific phone anymore. But what then? Again, what motivation do ATT and Verizon have to keep giving Apple more and more power? None. Look at ATT. They are already starting to decrease the visibility of the iPhone in exchange for Android and WP7. Verizon will too. Neither Verizon nor ATT want Apple to have much power over them. Why would they? They are better off throwing their weight behind Android or WP so they can continue to play their handset makers off of each other.

[The value iPhone brings to both Vz and ATT is that people want it, and are willing to sign up for data contracts to have it. ATT is still advertising iPhone, and has always advertised other platforms, including a splash for WP7 as its premiere carrier (that worked well, huh?) Carriers sell phones people demand. Look outside the US, where lots of countries have multiple carriers selling the iPhone. It sells itself, but they also market it.

Conversely, why would ATT and Vz support Android? You think they want to be dependent upon Google? Upon users who don't want to pay for anything? Upon a platform that has less security and rampant piracy? What is your thinking there? - Dan]

And even from a consumer perpective, do you really think that Apple would be a better monopoly than MS? Look at what Apple is doing with Sony’s e-reader. They are blocking it. Why? Because they don’t get to take 30% of the revenue off of the top from their book sales. That’s what Apple INC. would do for everything if they had a real monopoly.

[Apple has every right to block Sony's app, just as Sony has blocked Macs from using its own platforms. Why is your outrage in one direction? And why shouldn't Apple take a cut from the vendors hoping to benefiting from the platform it built? ]

And here is another problem with Apple. What is up with that “Back to the Mac” event? My theory is that they are trying to turn the Macintosh into an iPad. The iPad is useless for real productive work. It’s 100% a consumptive device. They are taking the Macintosh, what used to be the tool of choice for creative professionals, and turning it into just another way to consume media. That’s the Apple you are supporting in this Decade.

[There is more professional work being created on iPad than on all Android devices and other tablets combined. Your comments here are just silly. Read the news. This "consumption" talking point is so ridiculous, but even more so because it comes from the people who were cheerleaders for netbooks (come on), PCs (most of which are just browsing the web and checking email) and Android tablets (which are used to play movies and that's about it).]

As for your question on what makes my LG better than the LG from 2009- How about a usable phone? It’s a really nice phone, I’ve been very pleased with it.

[The LG Nv smartphone series is very popular, with a keyboard and a cheap price point and an interface that is about on par with Android. But it doesn't use Android. So I fail to see what Android has really done for LG, or for users like you who want a cheap gutless phone that isn't an iPhone.]

By the way. I did read the entire article. In fact, I read it in 2008 before Apple and Google were competitors and you threw Google under the bus for no apparent reason at all -besides the fact that they are now competing (successfully) against Apple. You used to be a wise writer, now you just sound like another blind Apple Fanboy.

[Seriously? I take Google to task for delivering iPhone features a year or two late and wrapping themselves in a flag of "openness" while distributing their own apps under non-open licenses and companying about Bing's use of their public data. Google has a lot of great products that I use, but its also a far more insidious monoculture that's doing real damage - it's killing journalism, killing the web, destroying ad value, all to control everything. and it has no interest in delivering good products.

It's fine for you to hate Apple, but Apple isn't threatening to take away your choices in the market and replace everything with low quality cheap garbage plastered with ads. If Apple maintains its growth, you'll still be able to buy cheap LG junk years from now. Had Google managed to kill the iOS platform, we wouldn't have any good mobile software. I'm not a fan of mediocre monoculture, which is why I've always been critical of Windows, JavaME, Symbian, and now Android. If Apple were to suddenly be in the position of controlling the entire market, that would also be a problem. I was mad at Apple back in the day when the company was stagnating the graphical desktop while keeping it stupidly expensive.]

All I ask is that you stop being so blinded by some apparent oath of loyalty to Apple and try to look at Android with some objectivity. It’s not Windows. Google didn’t steal anything*. Google has done nothing but produce a very successful and powerful operating system and is giving it away for free.

*This is still a question for the courts, but as net no evidence has been produced that Google has done anything wrong.

[My problem isn't so much with Google stealing something, but with producing an ugly turd and trying to make it the only option, and people like you running with it and smearing it everywhere while chanting about how wonderful it is and how terrible people are who prefer something different.

I prefer to see Apple remain in a position where it can break up carrier control and kill crap like Flash and introduce new technologies and standardize open platforms. I preferred Google in a position where it was building excellent web services and not trying to be something it isn't just because it wants to own everything in the world like Microsoft, regardless of its actual capabilities. Dan]

45 gctwnl { 02.06.11 at 1:04 pm }

@Dan
Thanks for replying. If I understand you correctly, then Google is manipulating search results, in effect inserting worthless results that are however financially attractive for Google. The Bing-argument is then a red herring trying to direct attention away from that fact. That is quite a different and also interesting story, but that was not what you wrote initially, where it just was about the validity of the Bing argument itself.

The Bing argument may be a red herring, but that does not preclude it being correct (as I said, I don’t know, it seems a legal minefield to me). That is not an either/or.

If the Republicans change every debate on a ‘core issue’ (e.g. education) into one about a red herring (gay marriage and abortion), then your article above was (in analogy) about ‘gay marriage and abortion’, not about education etc.. Doesn’t that make you as hijacked as many others in the debate? I would be interested in an article about the core issue.

46 shadash { 02.06.11 at 9:44 pm }

My solution to Google:
1. Switch to Bing.
2. Install Ghostery and BetterPrivacy on Firefox.
3. Tell Google to go to hell.

47 PhilipWing { 02.09.11 at 10:40 pm }

The “right answer every time”? How about the desired answer on rare occasions? Maybe I’m just lousy at my searches (my inability to use Lexis/Nexis help me wash out of law school), but I enter several searches almost every time I look for something. The Map app which is driven by Google Maps which changes street suffixes on whim and can put me on the other side of the country. The web-based version *usually* doesn’t do that, but the Map app works with the GPS in my iPhone.

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