Unfortunate for whom?

Google's Toolbar feature apparently has a few people in a huff.

The AutoLink feature comes with Google's latest toolbar and provides links in a webpage to Amazon.com if it finds a book's ISBN number on the site.

It also links to Google's map service, if there is an address, or to car firm Carfax, if there is a licence plate.

Google said the feature, available only in the US, "adds useful links".

But some users are concerned that Google's dominant position in the search engine market place could mean it would be giving a competitive edge to firms like Amazon.

Since the Toolbar isn't yet available for Firefox (at least, not that I've seen, though I tend to be a good bit behind in browser modifications), I've not used the AutoLink feature. Sounds like a pretty cool feature to me, though. I use Amazon for 95% of my book purchases anyway.

My favorite bit from the piece is this snarky comment:

Dan Gillmor, founder of Grassroots Media, which supports citizen-based media, said the tool was a "bad idea, and an unfortunate move by a company that is looking to continue its hypergrowth".

I'm sorry, but what's so wrong about a company looking for "hypergrowth", again? As a citizen myself, I support well-built media, and find that Google does one hell of a job with the products it releases. That it also happens to offer its primary service to anyone who can get online for free and still manages to reap profit enough to have hypergrowth leads me to suggest that we concern ourselves with the company in order to learn, rather than sneer and snipe. Methinks a "bad idea" here is one Dan's "citizens" didn't think of first.

If there's one thing we ought to have learned from Google, it's that the spectre of "monopoly" is frequently without substance, and serves only as a sop to competitors looking for government to tie the hands of a market giant. Not so long ago "we" were worried about the prospect of a Microsoft-branded online world where Bill Gates' latest project was the sole gatekeeper of the internet.

Now, if you don't mind, I've got to go pick up my new Linux-based phone.


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This page contains a single entry by published on February 22, 2005 3:57 PM.

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