My grandfather was a hard-working, silent man, who spent his entire career working as a postal delivery man. As far as I've heard, he never missed a day and he always finished his route on schedule, regardless of weather or of his own health. He demonstrated his honor in how consistent he was. Most of the letters he carried were either private or related to each household's personal business, but there were still some advertisements to be passed out dilatorily. But that was a simpler time. For instance, it would be completely out of the question for him to look through the mail and scan the content of the letters to see which additional catalogues or flyers to leave each household. As a matter of fact, such an act would be a federal violation.
Times have changed though. We still get mail… we still get unwanted advertisements. The difference now is that most of that mail is sent over the internet to our e-mail inboxes. Laws and legislation are supposed to change to reflect the advances of our time, but for the time being, they haven't changed yet to protect the sacred privacy of our modern correspondence the same way they have always protected hand delivered mail. This leaves us in a moral gray area, confused and wondering.
Other companies, such as Yahoo! (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT), have taken advantage of the recent scrutiny on Google by launching campaigns to win back users. Yahoo!, for one, has announced that this summer it will incorporate a "Do Not Track" feature. I think the "Do Not Track" advertisement is still kind of a cheap ploy to woo Gmail / Google+ users who are leery of their privacy being undermined.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has taken a much more cut-throat approach to how to undermine Google with its G-Mailman character, which is meant to demonstrate how invasive and ineffective its "AdWords" platform is. In one such clip, he appears before a woman and suggests a medical remedy based on several words taken out of context from an e-mail she sent about something she had cooked. While it does a good job of illustrating a few examples of how AdWords fails to succeed, the commercials still are obviously a smear, ending with, "Your e-mail is your business. Google makes it theirs. Microsoft 365: a better solution for your business." I believe that whatever credibility Microsoft might have earned by pointing out the flaw is immediately undermined by the shameless ploy for its desired market.
While the tracking features of Google are still somewhat suspect, its intention of making my online experience an evolving, ever-more efficient one is still bold, and I think other users will come around to feel this way too as soon as the recent press scrutiny has time to die down. After all, let's be honest… in the world of preferred stocks, we think of the bottom line and not just the ethics debate involved. The average user isn't sophisticated enough to know or pay attention to how these issues develop past the point that they are in the headlines, which works to Google's advantage.
We're investing in these stocks to make a profit, and I believe there is still much profit to be had in Google. For a primarily web-based company, its $107 billion is impeccable, considering that the much more diversified Microsoft is at $327 million; its revenue is from its operating system, office products, and a gaming platform.
Speaking of profit, most investors are only thinking of the ways these privacy concerns affect the domestic market, however, there is a whole new egg to crack on foreign soil. The question we should be asking is: how does this news affect the international market? As far as developing countries go, both China and India are the two most populated countries on the globe.
China is a complicated market to compete for, between its numerous cultural differences from ours, as well as the current ironclad domination by Baidu (BIDU). As it is, Baidu already caters directly to the language support and also functions within the guidelines of China's strict cultural regime.
However, India has a lot of room to grow, and any contenders can be viable. While both Microsoft and Google are currently under investigation by the developing country, the new focus on data which is linked to individuals may prove to be a steep advantage in Google's favor in this fledgling market, considering the highly illegal nature of various things like pornography-- that an American libertarian focus on anonymity would protect individuals against, therefore usurping the Indian government's cultural standard.
In the long run, this versatility will give Google a lot of room to grow, even in domestic use, considering all users actually need to do to avoid the scrutiny is not sign in. This will give Google the edge and allow the status of the preferred stock to continue to gain value. Since the value is currently down a little bit, it will give investment in the company an opportunity to grow, thus providing investors with greater returns. This being said, it's a great time to buy Google preferreds.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.