It’s been a big week for tech giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Despite Facebook’s “whisper” campaign against it, Google managed to divert positive attention to its new “Chromebook” while Microsoft garnered page one headlines with its $8.5 purchase of Skype.
Yes, the internet wars are in high gear this week and these three rivals have come out swinging.
Facebook has experienced its fair share of privacy scandals in the past, but this week the social networking site admitted to secretly attacking the privacy policies of Google, its rival in the competition for internet advertising space. Facebook hired PR firm Burson-Marstellar to pitch negative stories about Google’s Social Circles and social search to an independent blogger, USA Today, The Washington Post, Politico.com and the Huffington Post.
When bloggers went public with the “whisper” campaign, the firm immediately withdrew from the contract it had with Facebook. Burson-Marstellar claims, “Whatever the rationale, this was not standard operating practice and is against our polices and the assignment on these terms should have been declined.”
The stories were intended to take negative focus off of Facebook’s privacy problems and shift them to Google, though Facebook claims that it never meant to create a smear campaign. Burson-Marstellar contacted journalists without revealing the identity of its client, and Facebook now admits, “The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a transparent way.”
It seems that Facebook’s campaign did more damage to Facebook’s reputation than it did to Google’s. The story proves the importance of transparency in all communications.
Hadly Reynolds, analyst at IDC, claims that the Facebook executives are too young and immature to really understand how to properly handle such a large and powerful company but PR ethics really should be universal regardless of age or experience level.
While Facebook was busy attempting to smear it and then clean up the mess, Google took a step forward and announced that it will launch a new netbook on July 15th in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The “Chromebook” will run on Google’s Chrome operating system.
Like a true netbook, the Chromebook will have very limited storage capacity, but what sets it apart is that it’s a cloud-based computer. For users to access files, they will need Internet access, so Chromebooks comes with built-in Wi-Fi and 3G.
Google says the Chromebook will boot in 8 seconds and hold 8.5 hours of battery life. Chromebooks are designed to process data faster over time as new updates come out. Sounds like a pretty good deal, especially with Amazon’s new Cloud Drive launch at the end of March rocketing the cloud computing world further into popularity. With this new product, Google provides further proof of its position as a leader in cloud computing.
What Microsoft plans to do with the newly purchased Skype is yet to be determined, but it proved in the past an ability to transform companies it acquired. For example, it bought Forethought for $14 million in 1987 and turned it into PowerPoint. PowerPoint is now part of Microsoft Office Suite, which brings in $14 billion per year.
Even if Microsoft has stated no definitive plans for Skype, there is one thing it knows for sure: at least now arch-rival Google can’t have it. By purchasing Skype, Microsoft prevented its biggest rival from getting its hands on such a valuable tool. Instead of openly attacking Google like Facebook did, Microsoft is snatching up resources so Google can’t have them. Microsoft and Google are fighting the same war, just with different tactics.
Things are moving fast and will likely move faster as tech companies race to outdo each other. It looks like World War IV will take place in cyberspace.