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Wednesday Grok: For Google, evil is the new black

Wednesday Grok: For Google, evil is the new black

For Facebook, grey is the new economy, and at RIM pink is the new slip

Grok has always considered Google to be its own worst enemy, and its biggest threats to be hubris and antitrust. Now they have found a way to combine the two and as a result, the blogosphere and Twitter streams are thick with the stench of cordite, or at least baloney. Google is getting royally corn holed right now for preferring its own products in its search results rather than coming at the task from a position of neutrality and user need.

The latest manifestation of this trend can be seen in the application of its search to Google+ and its attempt to mine the rich vein of social data which has exploded in recent years.

A quick recap of the back-story: Google has hard-wired in relevancy for its own social media offerings over those results from websites such as Twitter, which would otherwise score higher if the work of organising the world's information was simply left to Google's famously indifferent and independent spiders.

With the bastardisation of search, Google is basically doing what it always said it wouldn't do. Hence, the company is getting smacked down for its greed and malfeasance and giving new impetus to questions of anti-trust which are rarely far from the surface around Mountain View.

There is of course no neat way for a company which foolishly adopted "Don't be Evil" as its leitmotif during its early adolescence to explain away a policy that so utterly debases its mission.

Meanwhile, coders from some of Google's competitors have banded together in their spare time to build a Web plug-in which actually returns the most relevant social results using Google's very own algorithms. They are promoting the results on a website they have called <i>Focus on the User</i> .

MG Siegler, in <i>PandoDaily</i> , provided the best summation Grok could find.

Siegler wrote: “Google’s real problem with Search+ isn’t actually evilness nor greed nor antitrust — it’s something much bigger: relevancy. Many of us are stuck arguing the details. The details don’t actually matter. Who has access to what data doesn’t actually matter. What deals are struck behind the scenes doesn’t actually matter. Whether Google is hurting competition by using their position of power doesn’t actually matter. The destruction of the product is all that matters.”

And as he puts it very succinctly a few lines later, “At the end of the day, Google’s insistence of pumping up Google+ is making their product worse.”

Speaking of evil....

Is gambling the killer app for Facebook? Grok hopes not, but suspects so. Now, Grok likes a bet as much as the next punter, particularly on the nags which as any gambler knows isn't actually gambling, unlike say, roulette or the pokies which are genuinely games of chance.

And there is no doubt that gambling online, often considered the grey economy of the net (as opposed to say, the black economy of porn, is a huge business.

Now Business Insider's Henry Blodget recounts a recent encounter with "an industry insider close to Facebook" * who told him “When online gambling is legalised, Facebook will be a $100 billion company.” As Blodgett somewhat frighteningly points out, that's a hundred billion in revenue, not market cap.

There is still a slight speed bump along the way though — the illegality of the whole idea in the US, but nothing a little Washington lobbying won't overcome surely. And if all else fails, there's plenty of offshore jurisdictions that might be willing to assist. As the story points out, Facebook was rumored to be examining the UK as a possible location for parting fools from their money.

RIM is long beyond careless

To lose one CEO, Mr Grok, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. But Research in Motion has taken Oscar Wilde's admonishment to a new level by losing both at once.

Reporting on RIM's decision to fire its two co-CEO's, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, Mashable offers its own four suggestions for what should happen next. And Grok has a fifth — never ever appoint co-CEOs to anything.

Mashable's prescription is simple enough: Narrow the focus back to what it does best — serving business needs. Secondly, build a better Playbook, again with an enterprise focus. Next, go large on apps and engage the developer community. Finally, don't panic — there's time.

All of which reminds Grok of that simplest of entreaties: Focus on core business.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments.

* To all those "industry insiders close to (fill in the blank)", where would journalism be without you?

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