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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Google turns the page… in a bad way

David Ulevitch at OpenDNS sheds some light on something that should, but probably won't, disturb a lot of people:
Google and Dell have teamed up to install some software on Dell computers that borders on being spyware. I say spyware because it’s hard to figure out what it is and is even harder to remove.

About a year ago Google and Dell announced a partnership to include the Google Toolbar on new Dell computers. At the same time, Google was trying to convince the Department of Justice that changing the default search engine in the (then) new IE7 was too difficult (when in reality it’s really simple). Installing the toolbar meant that users would have Google as their default search engine in IE7. It also meant that Dell and Google would share some of the revenue from the advertising clicks that resulted from these installations, much like The Mozilla Foundation does with its Firefox browser.

The computer hardware business has razor-thin margins which means making a profit is tough. So the opportunity for Dell to get a recurring revenue stream from an existing customer long after the sale of the computer is more than just enticing, it’s huge. It also means a couple other things:

1. Dell and Google have an incentive to make it very hard for users to turn this off.

2. Because users can’t get rid of it, Dell and Google can get away with putting more ads on the page and pushing user-relevant content off the page.

They’re now doing both of these things.
Worth reading. Worth debating. Worth worrying about. Yes, OpenDNS has a vested interest, of sorts, in this game. But this is bad news and yet another indication that Google's "Do No Evil" mantra is marketing horse pucky.

Thanks, Matt.

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[ Posted at 9:01 AM | Permalink ]


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