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November 2011: The worst month in Google's history?

A look back at November 2011: The month where Google made some of its most series mistakes, gaffes and controversies.
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1 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Google has a very difficult month, and yet we're only half way through it. From leaked Gmail designs to a near-mass-exodus over changes to Google Reader, others were more bothered by the fact that their BlackBerry's would no longer be supported, while iOS users felt excitement and disappointment in the space of about an hour.

This topsy turvy month can only get better for the company, surely? Well, we'll see. Let's see what has gone oh-so-wrong this month for the search giant.

Related:

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2 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Web users kicked off big-style when Google announced that news aggregator and RSS viewer Google Reader would change its design and remove crucial features. There were blog posts a plenty, and the technology world went off the deep end, as though someone had accidentally tripped over the plug to the Internet.

Some decided to remain "tepidly agnostic" over the changes, whereas others simply jumped ship at the thought that even on the face of it a subtle change may affect their worlds. It was something Google found difficult to do, no doubt, but has for some time wanted to revamp its user interfaces. Nevertheless, many were angry and frustrated that a free product could suddenly change without that much warning. 

Enter Gmail...

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3 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

While Google was preparing a similar redesign and feature adding update for its popular free email service, little did the company know that others were undoing the hard work and secrecy of the relaunch.

Google only went and accidentally released what its Gmail update would look like shortly before it allowed first-adopters in. But how did they pull it? By filing a copyright claim against itself to force the video to disappear. Sloppy move, chaps and lasses.

Granted, it wasn't as though they declared war on France, or was overheard slagging off the Israeli prime minister, but nevertheless it could be seen that it was the catalyst of much worse to come.

Nearly two weeks after the leak, the company released the brand new interface, sporting a very similar look to Google Reader. At least this time around people were not so resilient to the changes.

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4 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Privacy campaigners and organisations jumped, almost without hesitance, at the thought that Google's controversial 360-degree Street View venture could be heading indoors. Though Google did not publicly respond to the privacy claims, the search giant attracted even more negative attention for its past indiscretions over public privacy and data protection.

Though "privacy will be central" to the new project, and faces will continue to be blurred out, some are still sceptical over the extension to the street-level mapping service. At least the service is opt-in only, rather than Google bursting down the doors, armed with photographers and panoramic photo kits. 

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5 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Google tweaked, or rather, completely revamped its search algorithm in a bid to 'freshen up' its search results and remain competitive on the search engine front. After all, search is what Google became famous for. 

While more news-related posts will float to the top of the search results, and more recent articles, pages and news results will rank higher than previously before, the overall changes will affect over 35 percent of all Google searches.

But worst of all, it was discovered that Google can now trawl through Facebook comments left via Facebook on other websites.

In that case, I hope you're not trolling, otherwise it'll remain in Google's index for years (or forever, for all we know).

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6 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Twitter erupted with euphoria last week when Google released its Gmail application for iPhones, and within an hour or so of the launch, Google pulled the application and sounds of palms hitting foreheads was heard across the U.S.

The trumpeted launch signalled the start of a new mobile era for the company, which had in the same week announced that it was pulling its support for the BlackBerry application.

Google's fumbled launch made them look like they were unprepared, or rushed the rollout of the application, which had been hoped to have been released for some time. One seemingly simple bug caused the pullback of the application from millions of Apple's smartphones worldwide, and left many disappointed.

It also left many questioning how potent Google still is on the world technology stage.

 

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7 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, either in a moment of blind panic to throw antitrust regulators off the scent or not, admitted during a Senate hearing that Apple's intelligent assistant for the iPhone 4S, Siri, poses a serious threat to the company's search engine.

This made Google frankly look rather weak and downtrodden by its various competitors. It also looked as though Google was in its glass house throwing stones at Apple, after Google continues to face antitrust hearings and anti-competitive reviews.

Search is still a massive part of Google's business, and while the search giant retains around 65 percent of the global marketshare, other competitors are chipping away at its share. And this worries Google like you could only imagine.

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8 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Continuing the antitrust theme, Google had more than just Siri to worry about -- which came as a by-product of Eric Schmidt's repeat performance during a Senate antitrust hearing.

Google is accused of 'cooking' search results to favour its own products over others, and continues to struggle to justify or even prove that the company is not. Also, because of its 65 percent marketshare, Schmidt continued to face questions over Google's dominance over the search and mobile market. According to comScore, Android controls around 34 percent of the U.S. market while Apple's iOS has just over 43 percent. Surely that would be enough to prove that it was not hogging the market?

Ultimately, the company has to remain seemingly in control and assertive, as well as competitive, without being seen to be overly competitive to the point where regulators start looking into the business practices of the company.

Oh, wait...

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9 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Long-time Google+ fan Robert Scoble blasted the company over its newly released brand pages, a feature that similarly resembles Pages on Facebook, allowing companies and businesses, public figures and the like to amass corporate followings.

While some of his comments were valid, Scoble does have one hell of a following that agrees with practically everything he says. 

It was enough to dent Google for a day or two -- which is enough when it boils down to the nature of the web. Most things are short lived, but when a controversy kicks off, it ultimately gets turned up to eleven

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10 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Google kicked BlackBerry users of Gmail in the teeth this month when it pulled the plug on its email mobile application

Besides causing controversy amongst its BlackBerry using collective, it did seem to be a significant marker for the company. While they continue to integrate Gmail into BlackBerry devices natively, it was seen as Google's way of signing the BlackBerry death warrant amongst many end-user consumer customers.

But interestingly, the WSJ reported that Google's reasons for dropping the BlackBerry platform was to cosy up to its nearest rival, Apple. Talk about mixed messages...

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11 of 11 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Chromebook sales are not looking healthy. The hair is falling out, its teeth have rotten, and the parents are asking Google to change the will. These cloud-based laptops are not selling like the proverbial hotcakes, and the search giant is struggling to think of what it can do next to -- well, not revitalise sales -- but to actually get them off the ground.

5,000 sales of Chromebooks. 5,000. Let me just say that again. 5,000, according to Digitimes. Google put its heart and soul into bringing Chrome OS -- this cloud-oriented operating system -- to the desktop, or laptop, and it has failed miserably. Even in trying to flog them off on the cheap to schools, colleges and universities has not worked.

Google is in a pickle. Does it carry on and do what it can to get Chromebooks off the shelves, or give up after only a few months of them being on sale?

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