The download space has been a lucrative area for many years. Cain slew Able because Able had downloaded some stuff onto Cain’s PC and given him a Malware browser infection. Way back in the day, it was possible to covertly get a browser object onto a end users browser, then traffic ads against it from Google amongst other folks. In the mid 2000′s, Google started getting more and more stringent on what they would approve before they would power a downloaded app with their search results. Each change made it harder and harder to get a Google feed to monetize with.
In the new privacy rules announced by Google earlier this month, they have pretty much put a stake through the heart of anyone relying on Google to monetize their downloads. The changes are pretty sweeping; a download must:
- Be pre-approved by Google
- Offer one-click, complete uninstall
- Provide clear, full disclosure and transparency to people about what is being installed and what changes are being made to their devices
- Install itself on only one browser per download
- Be bundled with and distributed by only reputable parties who comply with our policies.
As barriers to entry go, these are so high as to be visible from outer space. The download guys have always been uneasy bedfellows for Google, and these most recent changes have essentially kicked them out of bed entirely. I’m sure it’s theoretically possible for a toolbar to get approved and maintain a user base under these conditions but it’s an uphill task.
On the grounds that even the blackest cloud has a silver lining this should be good news for Yahoo. The download guys will pretty much be forced to move their traffic to Yahoo who will be happy to monetize at a lower rate than Google, and at a worse revenue share. It won’t kill the space… it’s far too lucrative for that, but it will make it tougher to do any kind of business in volume. It makes me nostalgic for the good old days of 2003.