Don’t be evil.
That simple (unofficial) slogan helped Google become a beloved company with many fans. They exploded onto the scene with a search engine that was simple to use and blew our minds with results. Then they started giving away great products like Gmail, Google Docs, and of course Android, for free. There was a time when Google could do no wrong, but fast forward to today and a growing amount of consumers don’t believe that famous slogan to be true anymore. What changed?
This sentiment was perfectly demonstrated over the weekend when the rumor that YouTube might be interested in buying Twitch.tv first surfaced. The news was met with negative reactions by a large portion of the internet, especially the gaming community. #RIPTwitch was trending on Twitter quickly after the news broke. Threads on Reddit were filled with complaints, disappointment, and this gif. The most remarkable thing about all of these reactions is how different they would have been just a couple of years ago.
YouTube is the best example. In the beginning people seemed to love everything Google did with YouTube. However, in the past few years many people have started getting upset with the changes Google has implemented. Things like the Google+ comment system are still being complained about today, which is exactly why some people are so worried about Twitch. Google’s once shining reputation has turned sour as consumers fear they will ruin their favorite services.
Google+ alone is a major point of contention among many users. When the social network was brand new and invite-only there was a lot of excitement. But the more Google has pushed it the more consumers have pushed back. For many internet users the first time they saw Google+ was when they needed to sign up to continue using YouTube. That’s not a good first impression. Unfortunately, this social network has turned into an arch nemesis for a lot of internet users.
Last year Google’s VP of Corporate Development said a third of their acquisitions end up failing. This is obviously the worst case scenario in the minds of Twitch users. A few notable Google products that have been shut down include Picnik, Aardvark, Dodgeball, Google Reader, Wave, and Buzz. Not all of these services were acquisitions, but it goes to show how unafraid Google is to shut down a service. Obviously users of Twitch don’t want that to happen.
Another reason that many consumers are wary of Google is how much of the internet they own. A user on Reddit had this to say:
“Google will control the largest video sharing service, the largest video streaming service, the largest e-mail service, a large social network service, 50% of the smart-phone market and is now even providing your internet – yet no one, including the government seems to care.”
They didn’t even mention the fact that most people use Google Search to find information, Google Maps to navigate, Google Chrome to browse the web, and their car may soon be controlled with Google technology. When one company owns so many popular services it makes people nervous. Just look at what happened to Microsoft in the 90’s. They were accused of creating a monopoly in web browsers by bundling IE with every version of Windows. Anyone that owns a Nexus device or Chromebook will see the similarities. Microsoft is still fighting the negative reputation it earned during that era. Could Google be on a similar path?
Something else that has changed their reputation is just the sheer size of the company. It’s easy to love an upstart that tries a bunch of crazy things and disrupts industries. They are seen as the anti-corporation. Eventually every successful company becomes a giant. Now that Google has become such a worldwide powerhouse they are no different from the likes of Microsoft, IBM, and Apple in the eyes of many people. Google will continue to battle this as they get bigger and bigger. The question will be how do they respond? It’s hard to be cool forever.