Google Shills for Droid on Homepage

Remember the hard battle fought to convince Google to include a link to its privacy policy on the Google.com homepage?

Remember how Google argued “we do believe that having very limited text on our home page is important” and that it was pitched as some great sacrifice to include the word “privacy” and disrupt the homepage’s aesthetics?

Apparently providing users easy access to information about their privacy is much more burdensome for Google than providing a link to where people can buy Verizon’s Droid mobile phone.

Today, Google.com features an advertising message that the Droid is now for sale, and includes a link to this page touting its benefits, and prompting users to buy it from Verizon.

Makes me long for the days when Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page proclaimed that advertising has no place in search engines:

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. …It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media, we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers. …we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

And I wonder if there’s any chance the presence of Bert & Ernie could be seen as a product endorsement….

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