I'm not sure I buy this line of thinking. I agree that Google hasn't handled what it's doing very well. And MG is right that Eric Schmidt didn't provide very good answers to Danny's questions. But I can't see the logic of assuming that by running this Google+ promo atop the right ad rail, Google is suddenly cheating.

OK, so I do a search on "music," like MG did. In the main search results above the "fold," I get links to Yahoo Music, Music.com, and Pandora first, then a couple of music-related personal results linking to Google+ pages of friends (and these are not only marked as personal, but Google provides a prominent button to get rid of them all if I so choose). In a box on the top right, where ads would normally be, I get a box of Google+ "People and Pages" related to music. Right, like MG says, nothing from Twitter or Facebook or anyone else.

Well, so what? Are we saying Google doesn't have the right to promote its own services in the place where it usually runs ads (and, below this box, still does)? Now, maybe Google should label this box as promotional--that probably would have been smarter. Because while MG and others view this box as "search results," it doesn't look like search results at all to me--different format, different place, even links at the bottom indicating this feature is not your usual search results list.

Yes, it does look like Google is a little desperate to get more attention for Google+. What's more, I'm not sure the "personal" results, Google+-related or otherwise (and not all the "personal" results are Google+ pages or people) are all that great. Maybe it would have been better, until those personalized results improve, to make the plain-vanilla results the default for now.

But again, so what? It's hard for me to make the case that Google should be compelled to promote links to rivals' content outside the usual search results spot. I could be looking at this wrong, so please comment. But it looks to me like Google is making the social networking game more competitive, not less, by doing this, while providing additional choices on core search.
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