Alan Patrick is sticking his neck out and calling the top on Google’s growth. I am not convinced, and there are specific points that I have comments on.
In-stream vs contextual ads
I have no doubt that in-stream ads may flourish, but I do not see how this will affect Google’s search ads. It is unlikely to affect what appears on search results pages (except when the ads come up in the results).
As for the ads that Google places on other people’s content pages, there Google is merely a middle man. More competition may trim its commission (I hope it does), but I cannot see that it will destroy its business.
The Bing/News International deal
Is paying significant amounts for the right to index content a viable business model for search engines? It appear to me that Microsoft is doing exactly what Alan accused Google of doing: it is using the profitable business (Windows and Office) to subsidise an unprofitable one (Bing, and specifically news searches on Bing). One might use this as evidence for calling a top on Microsoft’s profits!
Google also has a lot of sources. The top stories usually have dozens, or even hundreds, or sources. Is anyone going to care if a few disappear? It is likely that most people read the biggest news sources because they are comprehensive and widely distributed (so convenient): both are irrelevant when doing a search, or looking at an aggregator.
Personally, I am looking forward to more diversity on the front page of Google news.
The other effect of some sources leaving Google to be paid by MS, is that the traffic flowing to the remaining sources increases, and so do their revenues. An equilibrium will be reached, unless Google looses a lot of share to people who love New Internationals journalism. Some sources already have deals with Google (PA) or seem to be happy with free indexing sending traffic there way.
Better Competition is emerging
True, Bing is a huge improvement on the previous MSN search. I still think Google is better. I used a blind search for a few days and Google was usually better. Their stats confirm this. I think the stats understate Google’s lead, because most of the time the results were very similar, but when there was a significant difference, I found Google was the best. Google was also the best at correctly interpreting long search phrases and ambiguous words.
Consumers are starting to understand the privacy implications of Google’s Datamining
A lot of people do not care. Many do not know. In any case, why worry about how much Google knows about you if your government and you ISP know everything you do online? Only a minority seem to care about privacy on Facebook, which is a much bigger problem (if you use Facebook).