Speculation: Google To Disallow Search Partners From Changing User's Default Settings

Mar 26, 2010 • 8:10 am | comments (1) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Before I even start, I want to say this is high on the speculation meter. A single post at WebmasterWorld said he heard via an investor, Bill Burnham, that Google is changing their policies for traffic partners. The specific policy they are changing, as said in the thread, is that Google is considering changing their policies to prevent search traffic partners from changing users' home page & default search settings.

That means, if you are a partner with Google, such as Dell, and you want to change the users' home page or default search settings when they install something (I guess, it is not clear) then Google will consider this a violation of their new policy?

Let me quote the whole post:

I read an interesting report by Google watcher Bill Burnham this morning, discussing a publicly-traded firm called Incredimail who derives virtually all their ~$27M in annual revenues from Google. Incredimail offers free email add-ons (emoticons, backgrounds, animations, 3D effects, etc) to the consumer, and makes its money by resetting users' home page and default search to Google.

What's news is that Incredimail said today that they're aware Google is considering changing their policies to prevent search traffic partners from changing users' home page & default search settings. Despite strong revenues, Incredimail's stock dropped 15% today on this disclosure.

Do you think this is true? Clearly this had an impact on one of their partner's stock. But what is really going on here?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Bill Burnham

03/27/2010 05:22 pm

Just to be clear, Incredimail said that Google had informed them that Google was considering making changes in their policies that affect the resetting of default home pages and search providers by traffic partners. Incredimail was very vague as to what the exact changes were that Google said are under consideration but they did mention that Google said any changes would not be implemented until Q1 2011. Whatever Google told Incredimail caused their lawyers to tell the CEO that he had to give investors a heads up about the potential changes. Incredimail said that the changes would not result in a complete loss of Google revenues, but the implication was clearly that they could significantly reduce them. My best guess is that Google will require partners to obtain a much more explicit "opt-in" from users when installing applications that change default search settings and/or home pages, but it's hard to say exactly other than it's clearly significant enough for a public company to warn about the potential changes and say that they are actively looking at alternative search partners as a result of them.

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