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Is the free ride for Google over? It seems to me that they have reached the point where the goodwill they earned in the past is wearing thin. Their strategy of everything being cute and free and beta was great for drawing attention (and continues to be effective with things like Google Earth), but it might not be as appropriate as they transition from being something fun and useful to being an essential part of the infrastructure. It seems that people have changed their expectations and the fun and colorful image is slowly turning to one of a faceless giant that doesn't respond. Some people are even changing their minds about the relative evil ranking of Microsoft.

Increasingly discussion of Google brings up issues of invasion of privacy, censorship and fears of dependence.

Their management is also being called into question about employment discrimination (regarding pregnancy and age)

How Google handles this new role and assumes (or fails to assume) the new responsibilities which go with it will be interesting. What happens if they continue to be less than transparent and less than responsible? Please note that I am not saying Google is being evil. I'm just saying that their motto "Don't be Evil" only excludes a small category of bad behaviors and leaves things like being greedy, uncaring and irresponsible wide open as possible choices. Does it leave room for another Hello Kitty company to assume the mantle of the beloved? Room for Microsoft to reprise the famous Apple 1984 commercial with an MSN butterfly fluttering it's wings in the Amazon and meanwhile a giant grey screen with 100 zeros shatters somewhere in Mountain View?

I'm not sure. But it is certainly worth looking at. Googlewatch always seemed a bit kooky to me, but they are seeming less so as time goes on.



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