Break Up Google!

I’ve never read very deep into Ayn Rand’s classic novel Atlas Shrugged. Whenever I try I get bogged down in its stilted dialogues and general verbosity. But I’ve read enough of it and have talked to people who swear by it to get this message from the author: In business, you shouldn’t be punished (or reined in at all) for competing too well.

Google is, for those of us who spend considerable time each day in front of a computer screen, a vital and necessary tool. My browser’s search window can be set to Yahoo or Bing, but I choose to use Google.

Google is more than a search tool. It offers Youtube, Gmail, Chrome, Google Plus, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Earth, the Android smartphone platform and other services. Not to mention Google Adwords, which has provided good results for many businesses and organizations.

Google recently changed its Gmail inbox. It now sorts incoming emails into one of three categories: Primary, Social and Promotion. Those of us who manage email marketing for clients are concerned that some emails sent to Gmail accounts through Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or other email service providers may land under the Promotion tab and may not be opened in a timely manner, if at all.

An article posted last Thursday asks this question in its headline: Dig Google Just Kill PR Agencies? Click HERE to read it. The article deals with changes in Google webmaster rules regarding links and keywords in press releases.

Smart people can work around or with those two recent changes. But these questions are worth considering: Does Google have too much power? Do they control too much of the Internet? Do they know too much about you?

In the 80’s we saw the feds break up AT & T. In the early days of radio, the feds forced NBC to spin off one of its two networks. In 1998, the feds sought to break up Microsoft. After an initial ruling against the company, a compromise settlement was reached in 2001.

You and I don’t have the power to control Google and its destiny, but we can choose how each of us interacts with Google.

Is it fair to limit market dominance that has come from performing and competing well? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the saying goes. As useful as Google is, we as citizens must pay attention to their business practices. Regulators must monitor their actions to assure fair competition. It may not yet be time to break up Google, but that day may be approaching. Stay tuned.

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