I should probably lay off of the negative Google posts, but it seems to be a hot topic now of days.
The amount of bad publicity Google gets appears to be steadily increasing. There was once a time where Google was viewed as the good guys. The whole “don’t be evil” thing really did represent Google’s early years. Once symbolic, post-IPO few care about it anymore.
I think there are two groups which may have the strongest impact on Google in the upcoming months:
1. Business owners who rely on Google’s traffic, free and paid. In the past, major algorithm changes angered many. These voices were relatively neutralised as other web site owners naturally recieved placements others lost. The Adwords quality score is as it has an across-the-board negative effect on the entire userbase.
2. Privacy advocates have been around for a long time. As long as Google provides a service in exchange for private information privacy advocates voices will be muted. Despite decades of e-mail most users still broadcast private messages across the web when free encryption is available to them. I think we will see the same happen with search — i.e. average users don’t care.
Wal-Mart suffers from a noisy opposition. Much like Google, Wal-Mart’s opposition originates from displaced business owners. The difference is Wal-Mart’s opposition has matured and spread to new evangelists who may actually have little to gain financially. This appears to also be in part from the low-income stereotype surrounding the discounter — something Google does not have to worry about.
The biggest risk is government intervention. Anti-Google views could ignite the passage of laws that require thousands of other businesses to comply as well. In proportion to size, the large companies absorb the compliance costs while the small guys are crushed by it.