Why is Google so hysterically hypocritical about Bing using its public data?
February 1st, 2011
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.