If Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a dangerous weakness, it is messaging.
This is pretty amazing for a company whose financial success is built on advertising, on providing attractive billboards with which companies of all sizes and kinds try to build markets for what they sell.
But it's true, which became very clear this week when the company unified its privacy policies.
The policy itself is fairly straightforward, and Google published a nice FAQ. Basically they're going to use everything they get on you, but they will anonymize most of it first, meaning it can't readily be traced to you. What isn't anonymized will only be revealed to people you've previously identified as acquaintances through Google Plus, after you're signed on to Google services like Mail. They will know you as someone with specific interests and buying habits, and this knowledge will follow you on whatever service Google provides.
The policy is credited to Alma Whitten, appointed director of privacy a year ago, and the company even let CNN do an admiring portrait of her.
Politicians like Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal also took up the call, and pundits called it the end of the anonymous Internet. Sure, the company may have planned its "Good to Know" ad campaign for months, but now the ads must flow up a mountain of skepticism, and possible FTC action.
So while Google is pulling its corporate policies together, investors should hope it also pulls its messaging together, or they're going to lose even more money than they've lost so far this year.