Only a few weeks into the new year and Google's gotten itself into its third scandal of 2012, involving some shady solicitations for business in Kenya, and all the bad PR is starting to affect its business. Following its Chrome sponsored post mess from last week and its Google+ search favoritism this week, Google's now facing accusations of fraud. In short, the Kenyan business listings company Mocality has accused Google, with very convincing evidence -- recorded phone calls and all -- of lying to its customers in an attempt to undermine its business. BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow has a succinct explanation of the confusing venture: "Google -- or people working on its behalf, with its knowledge and cooperation -- took the numbers of tens of thousands of Kenyan businesses from Mocality's database, then fraudulently solicited money from them by claiming to be in a joint venture with Mocality." On the PR front, Google's facing a lot of damning blog posts to add to the pile of anti-Google press this week. But beyond that, all these scandals are turning into real problems for business.
Google has put its core in danger, giving users compelling reasons to switch from Google search to competitors, like Bing. Just yesterday, Gizmodo's Mat Honan made a public to do about switching his engine from Google to Bing as a direct result of the search engine scandal. "Google broke itself," he wrote, compelling the popular blogger's followers to take the same action. And others have followed. Bing has already made a pretty significant mark on the Search landscape, now getting over a third of all the Internet's search traffic. Google used to have a 3 to 1 ratio over Microsoft's offering. That's now down to 2 to 1, as the chart below via Mashable shows, with Bing steadily gaining on Google.
At these rates, Mashable predicted Bing would overtake Google by now. That hasn't happened. But it has overtaken Yahoo for the number two spot. And that was before all these Google calamities. One of which caused Google to lower the ranking of Chrome, its browser, which of course, gives users a direct connection to Google search. The download now shows up as the fourth result, rather than the first.
Beyond search market share, Google's also got itself a fresh anti-trust complaint out of the search scandal. Already in the midst of anti-trust investigations from the Federal Trade Commission, the new letter from the Electronic Privacy Information Center is just another to add to the pile. In isolation, these violations of Google's "do no evil" policy help advance the company's business. But, as the infractions add up, customers are starting to notice and take action in real ways.