Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Scroogle is a Mistake

I've just stumbled across this article about Microsoft's Scroogle campaign, and I think it touches on what I wrote about in my last post. The gist of it is this: Microsoft started an anti-Google campaign online, accusing them of invading their users' privacy by going through their e-mail and using that data for targeted advertising.

Microsoft is obviously in the wrong here (and I'd venture to guess that they already know this), they're being hypocritical - what they accuse Google of is something they themselves actively pursue and do research in. From their website:
[...] With broad research efforts in areas like statistical learning, pattern recognition, text mining, optimization, information retrieval, recommendation, we are currently exploring practical technologies to enable large scale knowledge acquisition, to model user intention and to optimize the eco-system which involves users, rich clients and various online services. [...]
So, even if they weren't going through your email for advertising, they do actively use your personal data for profit. Of course they do - perhaps Microsoft is less reliant on this than Google, but they need the profits just as much, and they certainly can't afford to not keep up with what other companies do. There might not be anything wrong with this, but frankly it's somewhat embarrassing to see what has been a great company accuse another of screwing their users without reasonable justification.

Why out of all points in time they chose now to attack Google on this issue (Google's been doing this for years) is beyond me, but perhaps they've only now stopped doing it themselves.

But wait! They never have. Microsoft may be advertising with the campaign, but surely they can't just turn around and pretend Hotmail doesn't belong to them - it has nearly the same amount of users as Gmail.

To me, this entire campaign is a misplaced and counterproductive, and I hope Microsoft will eventually come to this conclusion themselves. Microsoft has recently done a great job of recovering their image as an innovative company and has released a range of really great products. I frankly don't understand why they would feel the need to start a negative campaign, instead of focusing on actually being better than the competition.