Foundem And The Google Anti-Trust Case – Thanks To Groklaw.net

I dropped into Groklaw this morning, and PJ had posted an article on the Texas Anti-Trust case against Google. She had taken a look at the people and players involved, the court filings, and the press coverage, and come to some interesting conclusions.

What I read got me curious, so I decided to do a little research from a different angle. I knew none of the companies involved (except Google), so I decided to look at one of the complainants, Foundem. First I went to their website to see what they offered, and decided to research laptop computers, since that’s what I use all of the time.

The Foundem laptop page appears to have been designed several years ago. It has options to display memory configurations of less than 1 gig, 1 to 2 gigs, and 2 plus gigs. Now maybe I’m a hog for memory, but I wouldn’t consider buying a machine with less than 4 gigs. Another indication that the site is antique is the processor choice filter, where you can search for PowerPC processors. PowerPC processors aren’t in any modern laptops that I know of. I believe that Apple was the last major OEM to use them, and they dropped them a couple of years ago.

Foundem Web Site Capture
Note the 'PowerPC' option

So it’s quite possible that Google is rating them low, because the site is crap. But let’s look elsewhere.

I decided to run searches on a couple of search engines for laptops.

Bing Laptop Search

Cuil Laptop Search

Dogpile Laptop Search

Google Laptop Search

I had only typed in the single word ‘Laptop’, not buy laptop, or anything else. Curiously one site was heavily biased towards selling laptops. Since I didn’t specify I was in the mood to buy, I found that odd. Three of the sites featured Wikipedia on the first page. Since I hadn’t specified why I was looking up laptops, Wikipedia is a good choice as an information resource.

As you may have guessed by now, the worst results were from Bing. The results that Bing gave would have been great if I had have typed ‘Buy Laptop’, but for a general search they were junk. The other three search engines gave differing results, but all of them were far more useful than Bing.

OK, it was a simple test. I only ran the one search, and I didn’t go beyond the first page, but realistically most people don’t. They want the search engine to deliver useful information immediately. Google does the best job, I’ll give it 4 stars. Cuil and Dogpile are close, I’ll give them 3 stars. Bing I’ll rate at 1 star.

In my opinion, Foundem isn’t willing to do the work to their website that will attract customers. If they were, the website would not show out of date technologies. Instead, they want Google to do the work for them.

As to Bing – it reminds me of Microsoft Windows. Junk, junk, and more junk. No wonder Microsoft is loosing the search market.

Foundem also operates a Search Neutrality site. There Foundem complains:

Typically, Google search penalties take a result’s “natural” ranking position and artificially lower it by some factor (depending on the severity of the penalty). Usually, the severity of a penalty is of little consequence, as any result placed below the first three pages is effectively invisible to users.

Foundem’s problem is that there is no such thing as a natural ranking position, all rankings are by their nature artificial. What Foundem is saying in effect is, Help us, we are too stupid to compete with sites that actually offer the customer value.

At least that is the impression that I get.

Regards,

Wayne Borean

Sunday September 5, 2010

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