Space Ramblings

Warning Signs for Google

Yahoo Inc. captured the top spot from rival Google Inc. for the first time in the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index report on electronic-business Web sites.

Yahoo’s customer satisfaction score of 79 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale rose almost 4% this year, while Google slipped 3.7% to 78, its second yearly decline in a row. Ask.com, with a score of 75, posted this year’s biggest increase and AOL.com the biggest decline, down more than 9% to 67. MSN.com, with a 75 score, is up only one point this year.

Right now Ask.com’s commitment to consumer centric programming is paying off. Microsoft’s attempts to do likewise are as usual weak. AOL continues to become irrelevant. Their free suite of services seem to barely work. I tried Xdrive twice and have yet to be able to get it to work.

But it’s Google that’s the story with its halo continuing to slip. And while as the recent Google Video incident demonstrated, Google has no shortage of apologists, Google is nevertheless not Apple, it lacks that fanatical core that defines its own identity in terms of the company whose products they use. There might be MacHeads but no GoogleHeads and Sergey Brin lacks any reality distortion field.

As Google continues to stray from its Don’t Be Evil pledge, the consequences begin to catch up. Right now some of Google’s more popular services are third party developed and acquired companies like Blogger and YouTube and FeedBurner. They reflect well but not on Google because most remain unaware of any Google connection.

While Google has focused its energies on a thousand directions, its basic search is distinctly lacking in quality and overrun with spam results, with portals and with all sorts of junk. Meanwhile Google’s wild google chases often have ended in futility. Froogle failed. Google Answers failed. Google Street View is cute but utterly pointless. It got publicity but has no meaning. Google’s flirtation with cell services and open access makes for good headlines but little useful progress.

For now Google is essentially an ad business but its ability to actually appeal to users is weak. Yahoo is beating Google simply by providing services while Google gets the headlines.

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