Google Goes Too Far

Maybe something happens when a company grows so successful that its name becomes a verb. Google’s new toolbar inserts links of its own choosing into websites, something Microsoft was hammered when it tried the same thing a couple of years ago.

What’s the big deal? Walt Mossberg of Wall Street Journal explains:

In my tests, for instance, it added links to the addresses of movie theaters I had called up in a Yahoo page, and the links took me to Google Maps, not to Yahoo’s own map page. When I looked up a book on eCampus, a book-selling site, AutoLink turned the ISBN numbers on the page into links to Amazon, which competes with eCampus to sell the books. When I looked up a used car for sale on AutoTrader, AutoLink turned the VIN numbers into links to Carfax, not to a competing auto-history-report seller, AutoCheck, used by AutoTrader.

If the principle behind AutoLink were to take hold, there would be nothing to stop Microsoft from adding a feature to Internet Explorer that would replace the ads on a Google search-results page with ads sold by Microsoft’s MSN service.

Or Yahoo, or anyone else, for that matter. It’s basically high-quality adware.

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