This is a big deal. The Wall Street Journal today has an article titled “Rivals Say Google’s Search Results Play Favorites” that I suspect will generate quite a bit of chatter in the media over the next few weeks – and it should.
Here is Google’s rebuttal post on its public policy blog – titled “It’s All About the Best Answers for Users.”
From a personal standpoint, I have to admit I find Google’s new search results easy to use and helpful when searching for a restaurant, etc. Rather than getting a morass of SEO’d links from all over the web, I get clean and concise results which are much more relevant to my search.
On the other hand, as a free market consumer, an entrepreneur and a VC, I find it troubling. If regulators didn’t like what MSFT was doing with IE a few years ago, they’ll have a field day with this topic. Throw this in with the Net Neutrality discussion and it’ll make for decent fireworks on Capitol Hill in 2011 (though I think we all find those public floggings to be more about publicity than anything else).