At yesterday's launch of Google's enterprise search appliance, product manager Kevin Gough argued that Google itself was an essential business tool, since practically no-one could get through the day without conducting at least one search using the popular site.
I'd agree with that assertion, but if Google wants to get taken seriously in the enterprise market, it's going to have to work a little harder on accountability.
Earlier this week, I reported that Google's main site was suffering from mysterious and unexplained outages which resulted in no search results being returned, no matter what term you entered.
When this first happened to me, I thought it was a one-off. It was only after it happened repeatedly that I contacted Google to ask if they had any insight. Their response essentially was "We can't replicate it, it must be a problem at your end" -- even after it became clear (via the handy medium of forum postings) that other users were suffering from the same problem.
At yesterday's launch, the company's PR was maintaining the same stance: there was no obvious problem at its end, so all those users must be wrong.
That's an annoyingly short-sighted attitude in any context, but it's especially unlikely to win Google any fans amongst the enterprise customers it hopes to flog all those new appliances to. When an IT manager is laying out AU$5,000 a piece, there's an expectation that complaints will get taken seriously.
Of course, Google is infamous for having a sometimes frosty relationship with the press. Most notably, the company officially blacklisted reporters from ZDNet Australia's sister site CNET News.com after the site used Google's own search tools to compile a profile on company CEO Eric Schmidt and highlight concerns about its use of personal data.
I don't think I've been blacklisted yet, but if the standard response to those kinds of queries is going to be an ostrich impersonation, it might not make much difference.