Political double speak has been part of PR for a long time, but Google has raised it to new levels today. The New York Times article "New Microsoft Browser Raises Google's Hackles" reports that Google has complained to the US Justice Department and the European Commission that Microsoft's IE7 comes with MSN Search selected as the default search service.
Of course the defaults are easy to change...but that doesn't matter. And of course the FireFox, Safari, and Opera browsers come with Google set as the default search service...but that doesn't matter either. Listen to this quote from Marissa Mayer at Google;
"The market favors open choice for search, and companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services," said Marissa Mayer, the vice president for search products at Google. "We don't think it's right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose."
Hey Google, why not let the users of FireFox, Safari, or Opera choose which search service they want? Why is Google the default choice? Have you ever tried to change the Google search service in Safari? I tried and couldn't do it. There has been a lot of talk about Google possibly creating its own browser. I wonder what the default search service would be in such a browser? Any guesses?
This isn't the typical David and Goliath story. Google has about $10B in cash, over 7,000 employees, and has about 50% market share for search, so they have the resources to spin the story anyway they want. Google "bought" the AOL search business by paying $1B for a 5% stake in AOL.
The PR "double speak" is kind of humorous, but I am glad I don't work on that side of the business. Geeking out on technology is much more fun.
UPDATE - Readers have made excellent points in their comments, and in their own blogs. Jeremy Zawodny says Google paid Dell to make a Googleized browser/toolbar/search service the default on all Dell PCs. They could do the same with other PC manufacturers and be the default everywhere. Google is already the default search service on Apple's Safari. Firefox, Opera, and other browsers. Jeremy is a high profile Yahoo employee, and MySQL open source guru, not exactly a Microsoft promoter :-)
Shawn Oster points out that Google is the main developer of Firefox since they hired many of the core developers and leaders of the project. Google employees certainly influence the choices made on Firefox.
Microsoft's IEblog points out that when a user installs IE7 it honors whatever choices the user has already made. If the user has chosen Google as their search service, IE7 installs Google as the default service. Secondly, Microsoft has made it MUCH easier to change defaults (two clicks) in IE7 than in previous versions.