Much has been made of Google’s squeaky clean image and it’s “Do No Evil” philosophy. Ultimately, it’s a great (but risky) way to build user/consumer trust. If Google really believes that as long as they play nice they’ll continue to flourish then everyone is happy.
The problem isn’t with Google’s philosophy. There are plenty of successful companies out there that succeeded by providing good value to others. This is a good thing. The problem really lies with Google’s self-proclaimed altruism. Multi-billion dollar corporations should not be going around telling people how wonderful they are. Plenty of public relations firms would be glad to let that message seap into the collective consciousness of the masses without blasting it out on a megaphone.
But there’s another issue with Google’s philosophy. Is placing ads in RSS feeds evil? Is bundling Google Desktop with Winzip installations evil? Is caching the entire web (and thus breaking a bunch of web apps) evil? Not really. “Evil” is a pretty strong word. Annoying? Frustrating? Nagging? Intrusive? Of course they are. Google is a fast growing company that is going to continue to scramble to find ways to justify its valuation. The results will probably not be evil, but they sure as hell won’t make us think of butterflies and daisies.
In the end, Google is a thriving business, no more or less evil than Walmart or McDonalds. The only difference is others don’t patronize us with a warm and cuddly public image. As the pressure to grow continues, Google will reach farther and farther to justify their value, and closer and closer to…*gasp*…evil.