Donate Today

The tech blogosphere is buzzing with Apple CEO Steve Jobs' assessment of Google's often repeated motto, "Don't be evil."

Depending on which account you believe, he either told an Apple "town hall" employee meeting that the Google mantra is "bullshit," or maybe he said, "This 'Don't be evil' mantra is a load of crap."

Whatever the exact words, Jobs was not amused. What apparently set him off was the Internet giant's foray into the mobile telephone business with its Nexus One. Here is Wired's account of the incident:

"We did not enter the search business, Jobs said. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them, he says. Someone else asks something on a different topic, but there’s no getting Jobs off this rant. I want to go back to that other question first and say one more thing, he says. This don’t be evil mantra: 'It’s bullshit.' Audience roars."

And to think it was less than a year ago that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board of directors.

I agree with Jobs, the Google motto is bullshit. The problem though is that Google employees buy into the rhetoric. I've had executives cite it when I've questioned certain corporate practices.

And because the employees believe Google is committed to the mantra, it means that by definition anything Google does can't in their eyes be evil. They just can't see it.

In fact Google, like any corporation, is committed to one thing: maximizing profits. Claiming the motto 'don't be evil' enables a Google executive  to engage in all sorts of cutthroat, hard-nosed and even anticompetitive business practices in pursuit of big bucks, but still feel good at the end of the day while counting the stock options. The motto doesn't do much for the rest of us. If you don't believe me, just ask Steve Jobs.