The Comcast-TWC merger is fast approaching, and with it comes a collective groan from every cable user in America.
The two massive TV and internet conglomerates have regularly been considered among the most hated companies worldwide, perhaps with good reason – their all-inclusive monopoly over cable installment has allowed them to jack up prices and lower service with impunity, trampling any smaller upstarts that could intrude on their territory.
In this dark hour, news outlets are already anticipating upcoming fights between the indomitable new mega corporation and the last holdout of low cost, high speed service: Google Fiber, with a promise to put free, high speed internet at every doorstep in the country, one neighborhood at a time.
Wait, hold up. Isn’t Google a monopoly too? An equally massive and all-encompassing monopoly, among the richest brands in the world, poised to annex yet another sector of the tech industry into their already extensive list of assets? Why are they getting off so easy in this new PR war?
With the right angle, it wouldn’t be very hard to characterize Google as an equivalent to science fiction megacorporations like Robocop’s Omnicorp or the Soylent company, playing off the tech giant’s personalized data collection and recent acquisitions of military robotics firms for overblown cinematic effect. But it isn’t a very frequent depiction style for the technology giant, even in this age of sensationalist news reporting and anti-monopoly sentiment.
In contrast to the almost universal hatred of other monopolistic companies like Comcast, TWC, or even Microsoft, Google seems universally loved by users and reporters alike, who gleefully publish story after story about their latest push into self-driving cars, cloud networking, or asteroid mining.
Why does Google have it so easy? A good PR team, to be sure. In fact, one could argue that Google’s entire company is good PR – a massive mechanism for promoting their public image as a benevolent crowd of tech nerds who want nothing more than to give everybody free high speed robots as well as a robot dog.
The company goes to great lengths to make sure they’re at the forefront of everyone’s minds when they think about the future. Asteroid mining? SpaceX, partially founded and funded by Google. Self-driving cars? Google. Lifelike interactive robots? Google. Cloud computing and the “internet of things”? Google, Google, Google.
Topping off their eccentric innovation is their near-total transparency – sure, they’re recording your every email for automated personalized marketing, but they told you about it, right? And now you’ve got ads for all the hardware parts you need just as you were getting in touch with your dad about repairing your garage door. Maybe having a benevolent robot overseer isn’t so bad after all.
This level of ease in managing their public image must be appealing to other companies, but it’s unclear whether anyone can manage it but Google. People have a hard time complaining about services that are free, and given how much the company has spread across tech services, for every service you do end up paying for, there are a dozen for which you don’t.
Thus, while other companies get berated endlessly for failed launches or ill-supported products, it seems that Google can do no wrong by its consumer base, even with their own fair share of product blunders.
Google’s informal corporate slogan is still “don’t be evil”, but it’s possible to wonder how much strain there is behind the scenes to keep that image intact.
Is it hard to make such a huge company seem so benevolent and harmless? Is there some secret cavern of endless rows of PR teams, toiling to keep the company on everyone’s bright side? Or are they really just the crowd of lovable geeks they purport to be?
In any case, I’m divided on what it would be like if they did enact a global coup – taking over the world’s industry like the corporate staples of science fiction. A population subjugated to Google ads and hovering drones, toiling to create the next iteration of the Browsing Algorithm.
But hey, at least we’d get free internet.
Copeland is a member of the class of 2015.