Amazon and the world’s dominant search engine both pissed me off last week. If you haven’t heard, Amazon pulled a Don Corleone and offered print-on-demand publishing companies an offer they couldn’t refuse: use our in-house printing company or be banned from selling your books through Amazon without lots of extra fees. Yes, it’s a tad more complicated than that, which you can read about in Publisher’s Weekly or Writer’s Weekly, but not much more complicated.
It’s a “We’re powerful, so screw you” move, something we’ve seen too many times from the likes of Microsoft and the mobile phone companies. If you’re 40 or above, remember when people actually liked Microsoft? If this goes through, in a few years we’ll be saying that about Amazon. So much for the long tail—they’d rather have a monopoly.
I still use the world’s biggest search engine and since they deposit money in my bank account each month, we’ll keep hanging out together. But the “do no evil” mantra they announced with their IPO is definitely fading into the background. If you have their toolbar on your browser you see a little page rank indicator at the bottom. It is supposed to indicate how popular a site is, based on how many other legitimate sites link to it.
Only it doesn’t work. It’s broken on purpose. The company has been actively knocking down the ranking of thousands of sites and blogs like this one who have the gall to sell text-based ads on their site that are not from Google. So while this blog added about 20 high-quality inbound links over the past two months (including the likes of Wikipedia, Budget Travel, The Washington Post, and Yahoo News), my visible ranking on the toolbar just declined two notches. The blog is as popular as ever, but they don’t want it to look that way. My hand has been slapped for disrupting an attempted monopoly. Mommy!
Unfortunately, they’re so powerful they can do what they want. And they do. So the conversation turns from positive to negative and we start feeling the same way about them as we do about the other companies letting us down every day.
Fast forward a few years and, “Remember when people used to really like that company?”
[flickr photo from optus]