From Grant McCraken:
Google continues to experience rough air as it seeks altitude. We might think that they would have looked at Microsoft before them. Microsoft managed to squander a vast amount of brand equity and brand opportunity by acting like the bully on the block, putting the screws to third-party competitors with all the grace and generosity of a Chicago street gang.
But no. Google decided to piss off the entire academic world by appearing to disregard copyright. For a marketing point of view, this is a howler of the first order. It is harder to imagine a segment better placed to do you harm than the academic world. They have much too much time on their hands, possess snit sharpened wits, and have access to the minds of the young for four formative years. Good one, Google. (Though I must say, I am sympathetic. Academics with life time security are well compensated. The state might well say, “your publications belong to the public domain.” Many scientists already act is precisely this spirit.) (emphasis added)
Did I miss something? Has Google pissed off the entire academic world? My own idiosyncratic sense is that the academic world is pretty happy with what Google is proposing to do. Google has certainly pissed off the publishing world, including a lot of academic publishers, but isn’t that a very, very different world?
More generally, from a marketing standpoint, is this really a howler? McCracken goes on to argue that Google’s energy is misdirected; that the world of content is waiting for a sort of all-content iPod that will make books literally obsolete. My speculation: Isn’t that wrong? We already have an all-purpose, content-rich distributed information technology; we call it the Internet. What we’re missing isn’t some new technology, it’s an assemblage of current technologies — form factor, bandwidth, and content — that will make real handheld distributed information processing a reality.