The press seems to have a pattern reporting on successful technology companies. First, these companies can do no wrong, the heroes of our time, bringing us clever new ways of doing things that promise to dramatically change our lives.
Then, reporters start nipping away at the edges. Maybe the hero has flaws? Is our hero really good? At the first sign of blood, the fangs sink in, and a frenzied attack tears down the hero the press itself had once created.
This happened dramatically when I was at Amazon. In 1999, Jeff Bezos was Time Magazine's Person of the Year. In 2000, we were "Amazon.bomb", no longer a revolution of retailing, but a fraud and a scam.
It probably is easier to draw blood in times of recession, when the business is already strained. The bloom came off Amazon's rose in 2000 during the stock market crash. In this recession of 2008, it looks like Google might have to endure similar treatment.
A few years ago, Google was built up into a hero. "The search engine that could" () had a "godlike view of what us mere mortals are thinking" (). Google was "one of the most remarkable Internet successes of our time ... powered by the world’s most advanced technology ... [and] in a few short years has revolutionized access to information about everything for everybody everywhere." (). The "all-knowing voice [will] always deliver the precise answer to any question in a fraction of a second." ().
Now, the press is nipping away at our hero. Some question whether Google has become evil ( ). Some ask if our hero knows too much and question its motives ( ). There was even a rather goofy piece in the NYT today portraying Sergey Brin and Susan Wojcicki as insensitive tyrants who ignore the day care needs of Googler parents.
So far, the press has failed to draw much blood, but I doubt that will deter them. If the Amazon experience is any guide, this will not end until the beast has been fed. The press has built up their hero. They will now tear it back down. The cycle must complete.
For a more lighthearted view on all of this, don't miss The Onion's story, "Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index".