This article by J.C. Kendall was originally published on his company’s website, TekPersona. Reprinted with his permission.
Image Provided by TekPersona
Think back a moment: all the way to Sept 30, 1997. Do you remember what happened?
On that early morning, a few employees of Microsoft took a huge metal version of the Internet Explorer Logo, placed it on the front lawn of the Netscape headquarters in Mountain View, and took enough pictures of it there to make sure that nobody in media would be without a shot of their own for their stories.
That day was the launch date of IE4.0, and the date when the fate of Netscape was decided forever. We would win, and they would lose. We had a demonstrably better browser, and it was free. Game over. We shoved our arms down their throat, and cut of their oxygen until they died. That is BUSINESS.
That was the end game, not the beginning. For the past two years, Microsoft had made a point of taking their medicine over every actual deficiency with versions 1 through 3 of IE, they made sure that not a single untruth or exaggeration about the product was unchallenged.
The media at that time was in love with Marc Andreessen, the kid fresh from College who was going to take down those big bullies in Redmond. (Sound familiar?) To the Silicon Valley press, it was as if Andreessen’s flatulence was of the fragrance of Strawberries. The media had their story, and they were sticking to it.
That meant that everything Microsoft did in combating Netscape was treated with hostility unlike anything we had ever seen before in Redmond. For Microsoft to be competing with the little Mountain View startup from (admittedly) behind, meant that we were to some, trying to take the food out of the mouths of Netscape infants and feed it to our wolves, or Steve Ballmer.
The fact is, Internet Explorer 3.0 was also a better browser than Netscape’s version, but the media would not say so, even in the face of unassailable evidence. It was faster, it was more secure, had more features, and did I mention FREE? The technical media decided that Free was a bad thing, if it meant that Andreessen and Netscape would not slay the Dragon of the Pacific Northwest. It was “unfair”, it was “predatory” and to many it was “illegal”.
No matter that thousands of Small-to-Medium businesses benefitted from being able to use a state-of-the-art Browser without undertaking another hit to their bottom lines. We were evil, and that is all that mattered to the Tech Media.
In the areas where the media was unfair, we went after them with a vengeance, made them print retractions, explain themselves, and their testing methodologies to the point where it was easier for the Media to simply tell the truth about our product, than for them to have anyone from Building 22 pick up the phone and throw down on them.
As you know, the Technical Media’s favorite whipping boy at the moment is Google +, which by any measure is a fantastic product, with the fastest adoption rate of any web site in the history of the Internet. However, if you read or listen to Tech Media, Google + is a “Ghost town”, a “failure”, and a place where almost nothing of interest is happening. The media is not only pushing these stories weekly, by quoting nobody but each other, they are ramping up their zeal against Google with blatant lies and falsehoods, mis-quotes, exaggerations and more.
I have been imploring Google for weeks now to answer the Media with a series of FACTS about their product to combat the meme that is beginning to take hold. “Google + is a loser, and if you use it, it means you are a loser too. “ Once this idea is firmly established, it will not matter what Google does, the product will never reach its potential.
Microsoft set the stage where upon the release of IE 4.0, that the media had no choice but to be honest and admit that Netscape had been surpassed by a free product. Market share of browser usage shifted almost overnight, and by the end of the year, the writing was on the wall for the boys in Mountain View who said they were going to bury us. (We never forgot that).
Google need not get into any fights, they only need correct the inaccuracies and let the media know that they will hold them to account. Once that happens, they will have no choice but to tell the truth and the truth is clear. Google + rocks, and is the single best Social Media platform for both individuals and businesses alike. Those are simple facts. Why would Google not want to say so? Why would Google not want to point out what happened to the user base at Skype when G+ members discovered Hangouts?
Why has Google not spoken to businesses like mine that are literally saving hundreds of dollars per month from the combination of Google + Hangouts and Google Voice for their corporate communications? Where is the [insert expletive here:] case study, Google?
At this rate, without Google changing course, there will come a point where Google + cannot get good enough to combat the perception that it is a failure in the marketplace, and that its users are a only bunch of geeks and early adopters who buy nothing but computer games.
It is time, Google to respect your users, and the businesses that reside on this forum, by not allowing the Media to poison your well of users into undesirable market segments. You need to tell the Media who we are, and you need to tell them why we love and use your product. So far, your efforts in this regard have been anemic to the point of meaningless. I do business here. I bring my clients here. How about showing us some appreciation, by defending our reasons for being here?
I am not suggesting that at some point, you might want to put a giant Google + Logo on the front steps over at Facebook. Nevertheless, if you ever do, I can give you the phone number to a shipping company familiar with such activities.
Netscape thought we were childish with the logo stunt, but to that, I say “If you done it, it aint braggin.”
Go Get Um, Google!
(disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing the Internet Explorer Browser of today, which due to lack of competition has suffered greatly. I love and use Chrome, because Chrome just rocks. )