Matt Cutts from Google

Matt Cutts at the Google Dance
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

It’s always great to get a chance to talk to Matt Cutts at search conferences though I didn’t have any good complicated search questions to bug him about this year. Matt is one of the early Google folks and arguably the most knowledgeable search expert in the world since he’s one of the few people who knows the Google algorithm inside out. Matt’s actually listed on the key Google search patent.

Today I noticed that Matt’s post about Google Chrome is near the top at Techmeme after some early reports suggested Google was going to nab all the info people created via use of the Chrome browser. Although I do not worry about Google stealing the content I create using their tools I was surprised in the discussion at Matt’s blog to see how people probably do not understand how much of your data from searches, emails, and other online tools is analyzed by search engines, ISPs, and probably at least a few government agencies. I wrote over there:

Well, I’m sure folks like Marshall knew that Google was not out to steal content. What people should be as concerned about is how the Chrome datastream will be processed now and over time, and how open will it be to examination by companies for advertising purposes ? Personally I’m OK with that but I think many people are not, and the lack of transparency in this area bothers me.

Somebody even suggested I was foolish to think they’d use Chrome data to target advertising, to which I replied:

Josh – you are naive to assume Google does so little with the search term data they explicitly say they have the right to collect. In Gmail, for example, some portion of your header is read by Google (probably just the title and not the content) so that ads can be targeted to you on those topics. Google Toolbar collects a lot of information and my understanding this helps target PPC advertisements though I’m not sure about that. As i noted I’m personally OK with this level of snooping, but I believe Google should make it much clearer what they do with the data they collect and probably also have options so users can delete any information they created – including their search streams – as they see fit.

Google’s “Google Chrome” Browser

Update:  Google Chrome is now available.   I’m only starting to test it but it seems very, very fast, intuitive, and impressive.

——–  earlier ———–

Google will soon launch an internet browser in what promises to be one of the most significant online developments in some time.  Based on the comic book intro they’ve used to warm up users to the new application, Google Chrome will effectively turn the browser into an operating system.    Perhaps the most significant change is that Chrome will open new tabbed windows for each application it runs (much like MS Windows).    This feature should help isolate problems during browsing and Google says it will create a superior environment for running the many embedded applications that are now part of a typical browsing session.    I’m not clear yet if this is fundamentally different from opening several internet explorer or FireFox browser windows which is also fairly typical.

In any case Google’s entry into the browser market is likely to shake up the online landscape, where only FireFox and Microsoft IE Explorer have any significant market share at about 20% for FF and about 79% for Microsoft IE.    Google promotions of Firefox have been largely responsible for it’s success, so it’ll be interesting to watch how this move affects the browser equation.

Browser software does not monetize directly, but since it is the gateway to the internet it’s a key part of the online revenue equation.   Were it not for the antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft it is almost certain that MS would have a much greater search market share as they could have made it much more difficult for users to change their search choices and could have taken advantage of the integration of the browser and the Windows operating system.   Thanks to the rules imposed in the Microsoft lawsuits and Google’s superior search, Google has been eating Microsoft’s search lunch for years.   This move, unless it backfires, will consolidate Google’s search dominance at the expense of MS and to a much lesser extent Firefox, which is an open source non-profit but also makes tens of millions each year from Google search revenues which are likely to diminish as people move to Google Chrome.