The Amazing Orchardo, our prognosticating alter ego, is as unequivocally certain about this prediction as he was about his last one. He's just not sure this one will come true as quickly as that one has.
If you haven't heard, a Web site called Kinderstart.com is suing Google for downgrading its PageRank "without reason or warning." Kinderstart is demanding that Google release information on how it ranks its search results. PageRank, of course, is Google's version of the Colonel's secret recipe.
We suspect Google will win this one, just as it appears to be heading off the U.S. government's request that it hand over keywords and Web addresses.
But Orchardo believes that whatever the law says, the time will come when the public no longer accepts Google's secrecy.
The public has different expectations for companies that become dominant in their markets and, as a result, assume a big role in our lives. Dominance -- rather than any corporate misstep -- is the reason for the backlash Microsoft began receiving after its Windows 95 peak, and it is the reason for the backlash Wal-Mart is receiving today.
These companies' policies -- their approach to business -- hasn't changed dramatically over the years; in fact, you could argue that the reason for their success has been their remarkably consistent adherence to their corporate values. It's the expectations that have changed.
Hence, we get a Bill Gates who was heavily criticized for not giving to charity 10 years ago ... and who is now Time's Person of the Year for his philanthropy. And we have a Wal-Mart that -- when all is said and done -- will likely change some of its traditionally penurious labor practices to shore up its public image.
Frankly, we much prefer Technorati's transparent ranking system to Google's PageRank mumbo-jumbo, which has birthed a cottage industry of charlatans and witch doctors who charge companies an arm and a leg to mysteriously boost their Google rankings.
That's soooo Web 1.0, Google. Oh well -- enjoy your secret handshakes while they last.