Feature: Blogging Google

Google's 3 Weirdest Mistakes

Author: Christopher Smith
Published: July 01, 2011 at 5:25 am

Being one of the largest search engines on Earth isn’t easy, but it sure is profitable. Of course, making lots of money and breaking new technological ground has its downsides, too. Google isn’t the focused, laser-like behemoth everybody secretly suspects it is. Every now and again, (or maybe once a week) Google makes a giant mistake. Here are the three weirdest:

Getting probed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for anti-trust violations.

Adwords is not your friend. It’s primarily a way for Google to get paid to entertain itself while generating page hit graphs that look a little like an old-fashioned piano roll. Thanks to this, someone occasionally stumbles upon your website. It only costs $16.72 a click! Nobody had a problem with this until it occurred to the FTC that that’s a pretty solid definition of monopoly. You’d think for the world’s top search engine, Google would have looked that one up.

Setting up a conference with former violent extremists to learn about peace.

The “Summit Against Violent Extremism” has all the hallmarks of an undergrad social sciences project. By gathering up ex-members of violent hate groups and putting them on a stage with a background of ambient light in order to learn about the peace process, Google has managed to create a new category of under qualified overreaching. It’s a little like watching Al Gore abruptly start up a traveling funk band. The purpose is unclear, the sound it makes is embarrassing, and halfway through everybody suddenly remembers they have something way more important to do. While Google’s intentions are good, the execution is just plain bizarre.


What do you get when you combine an amorphous rainbow-colored icon with undefined, slow moving services? A giant, expensive mess. Gmail’s Buzz was going to transform how people talked to each other online, except that Skype had already done that years earlier. Plus, why would people want to chat in real-time if they’re composing email? Like most weird ideas, it probably seemed plausible and great until the unwelcome confines of reality closed in. But hey: you don’t get anywhere new if you never step outside your comfort zone.

Congrats to Google for trying on a few new (if ultimately weird) moves.


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Article Author: Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith. Canadian. CEO of opin.ca. We provide enterprise content management solutions for governments around the world. Follow me on Twitter: @csedev.

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