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Google Humility or Google Hubris?

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This is the mystery of the quotient - Upon us all a little rain must fall.
~Led Zeppelin, The Rain Song.

It's been quite a couple of weeks for Google. First there was the mistake that caused the entire Internet to be flagged as malware. Next came the great Gmail outage earlier this week (which I wrote about in Let's Not Use the Gmail Outage to Trash Cloud Computing). Google has been taking a few lumps and it's not what you expect from a company that has pretty much sailed through its history on a startling growth trajectory. But just when I was beginning to think that Google had lost a bit of its swagger, I read that the company is joining in the anti-trust suit against Microsoft in Europe. It's been a week where we've seen a couple of sides of the complex company that is Google.

Looking a Bit Humble?

In the wake of the Gmail outage this week, Google put up an Apps Status Dashboard to let users know the status of Google Apps at any given time. It also acts as an audit trail of sorts because you can check the status historically. When I saw this, I immediately thought that Google was feeling a bit of pressure, that these problems, prior to them unknown, were smacking them back a little.

The Status dashboard is not a new idea of course. It's something Salesforce.com has done for quite some time as a way to assuage customers who might be concerned about how often the service is up and running. Cloud applications for whatever reason seem to have to pass a higher threshold in this regard than desktop or server applications, which as we know also go down from time to time. Regardless, the fact that Google even felt it had to offer this to users (especially the ones that pay for the service) was telling in its own way.

Looking a Bit Arrogant?

But don't cry for Google just yet because earlier this week it surfaced that Google was joining in an anti-trust suit against Microsoft around Internet Explorer. Further proof of Google's growing insecurity or perhaps just its incredible arrogance, but either way it seems strange that Google would resort to this tactic to gain market share for its browser, especially as the Information Week article points out, that Internet Explorer has been steadily losing market share.

It's pretty clear that Internet Explorer has become a secondary choice for many users, and if Google creates a decent browser with great features, then people are going to use it. Simple enough. The success of Firefox shows that when presented with a decent alternative, the market responds. It's time for Google to let the quality of its products speak for them and not hide behind law suits in this fashion.

Every company runs into issues from time to time and Google is no exception, but it's certainly interesting to watch how they've handled it. If you think about it, both moves illustrate a company that's no longer on the top of its game, but instead one that's resorting to moves we usually expect from Apple and Microsoft, which just goes to show, that once you get big enough, corporate behavior tends to repeat itself.

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