Sunday, February 03, 2008

Google on the Microsoft Bid for Yahoo - Check the Mirror

Just saw this note posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer for Google. Tend to agree with some of it, although I am not particularly a fan of the way Google is gobbling up companies either - looks like they killed Jaiku.

The openness of the Internet is what made Google -- and Yahoo! -- possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It's what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

So Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors'
email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

This hostile bid was announced on Friday, so there is plenty of time for these questions to be thoroughly addressed. We take Internet openness, choice and innovation seriously. They are the core of our culture. We believe that the interests of Internet users come first -- and should come first -- as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored.


Hmm. As Steve Gillmor points out "while Microsoft is up-front about establishing a contract with users for their gestures, Google rolls out a feature of Google Reader that ignores users’ privacy. Suddenly the completely unrelated act of chatting on Gtalk with someone who guesses your gmail name is used as permission to reveal your shared feed’s address and data to any of the above. It’s not that I am particularly worried about it; it’s just that the only way people could access the unguessable URL before was by having it publicly shared in email or a blog post. Certainly not by a tangentially-related contract where the only opt is out by manually hiding the contacts of those you don’t want to have see your shares, or by globally deleting the whole store. Now that’s arrogant.

And while the argument will be that Google has not violated the user’s privacy legally, neither did Beacon. Both technologies are early forays into the value of gestural data, about which readers might want to look with suspicion at those who say they don’t understand what I’ve been talking about for several years. Microsoft gets it, and they’re putting their software where your gestures are. And the one who levels with its users will trump the alleged benefits of a manufactured change agent. Get it together Google, the whole world is watching".

You bet they are.
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