Google's New Tag Line Should Be 'Caveat Emptor'

Rob Enderle

Since we chatted about this last week, and thanks to an engaging reader, I've been watching the drama surrounding Google's handling of the allegations from the Department of Justice that its Google Apps for Government offering doesn't have the proper security certification. With the U.S. Senate now investigating, this seems to be getting worse. The term "caveat emptor" comes to mind. Maybe this is why's new poll has 3 out of 4 people suggesting Google's first priority should be not doing evil.


This is largely because I've been up to my neck in complaints from the company's Android partners that are also being sued at the moment. Not to mention the failure of the Xoom tablet has, apparently, caused other companies to put the brakes on shipping them. This is on top of the failure of Google TV and recent allegations that it has committed tax fraud in China. You may think that the tax fraud issue is off-topic, but the kind of fraud in which you fake invoices tends to get the folks whose invoices you faked into hot water as well and I bet that many of these folks are also Google customers.


Let's chat about Google's caveat emptor ("Let the buyer beware") attitude this week.


Revisiting Netscape


Over a decade ago, I watched a similar fast-rising company, Netscape, which also struggled with the idea that its products should be very cheap or free, enter the enterprise and government markets. I was brought in as a consultant when some of our largest clients, including Boeing and Bristol Meyers, considered Netscape's offerings. I, and most of my peers at the time, warned that Netscape was largely untested at scale and that it simply didn't have the maturity yet to protect the companies it served. While most listened, one didn't, and as the offering failed, I watched as the entire team on the company side of this deal got pushed out, regardless of whether they had supported the decision or not.


This is the downside of trusting a vendor that hasn't learned to protect its advocates. A decade before, a lot of folks who supported Windows NT ended up in much the same way while Microsoft was learning that lesson. This is why vendor selection is so critical and why allowing a vendor to buy into a market before it has learned how to protect the folks who favor it is foolhardy.


Google's Battle in Los Angeles


Like it was for Netscape and its first big reference account, it is now for Google and Los Angeles. With huge budget shortages, you can imagine that Google's nearly free offerings would be very popular, but with reports that Los Angeles is about to sue Google over problems, that doesn't appear to be the case. Remember in a named reference account, because it is so visible, the firm typically bends over backwards to ensure things happen as expected.


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