You didn’t imagine it: Google’s search is worse, and that’s by design, according to a document produced in discovery.
Dr Jonny L. Saunders of UCLA shared one on their Mastodon earlier today. The internal Google email, from Jerry Dischler to Anil Sabharwal, dated May 3, 2019, expresses a concern over the company missing its sales’ targets for the quarter, thereby missing Wall Street expectations. ‘We are shaking the cushions on launches and have some candidates in May that will help, but if these break in mid–late May we only get half a quarter of impact or less, which means we need [redacted]%+ excess to where we are today and can’t do it alone.’
Dischler continues, ‘Our best shot at making the quarter is if we get an injection of at least [redacted]%, ideally [redacted]%, queries ASAP from Chrome.’
Saunders summed it up on Mastodon: ‘#google making search results worse on purpose to juice queries is a fully predictable feature of their business model’.
They add, ‘#LLM search is just a refinement on the ad revenue potential of iterative search, with the added bonus of surveillance-backed “queryless” search—an LLM “assistant” volunteering information, presumably whenever Google needs to meet expected earnings.’ You can read their thoughts in greater depth here.
It makes Marissa Mayer’s claims that Google search is worse because of junk content (i.e. it’s not our fault, it’s yours) even more disingenuous. I said Google has funded the web to make it worse (more here), and this supports my position even more. Except here, junk results are great for business when it comes to search, whereas I was considering it from its advertising business’s point of view. The web really would be better without Google.
The lawsuit, incidentally, indicates the US Department of Justice finally has the cojones to do something about Google. You’d think with the Microsoft Internet Explorer bundling case as precedent (pretty tame compared to what’s happening in the 2020s), they’d have gone for it earlier. But I shouldn’t complain: it really is a case of better late than never.