Why does Google continue to suck so badly? Why are they market leaders in so many fields, yet consistently second-rate upon informed inspection?

Try this on for size:

Talk to us: GOOG-411 now available in Canada

[… W]e’ve recently expanded our GOOG-411 service to Canada. If you’re in Canada, you can now find business listings by dial[l]ing 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-4664-411) from any phone – for free….

At Google, we work hard to tailor products to specific markets and regions. We believe that accounting for the unique characteristics of each country can make the difference between an OK service and a great one. Although English is spoken in both the U.S. and Canada, there are enough differences between the way it’s spoken in the two countries that we engineered GOOG-411 especially for Canadian English. We incorporated some Canadianisms such as “eh,” “Traw-na,” “Cal-gry,” and, of course, “aboot.” We also took into account geographical differences. Whereas users in the U.S. are prompted for “city and state,” Canadians are asked for your “city and province.”

Americans think they can make fun of anybody. What if Google pulled this shit on the myriad Indians they’ve got working for them? That’s a lot of accent to mock.

Or how about the Russians? If Canadians aren’t very important to Google, Russians really aren’t.

What makes the posting quoted above an even greater abomination is the fact that one of its authors, Arnaud Sahuguet, is a French national.

This business of telltale Canadian pronunciations is an old canard that uneducated Americans think they can trot out anytime they want. There’s only one way Canadians use eh distinctively. Vowel deletion in Toronto and Calgary is consistent with North American English. (Do Americans pronounce every vowel in “New Orleans”?) I’ve heard a Canadian spontaneously utter the word “about” in the manner they suggest exactly once.

It’s a national stereotype, larded gratuitously inside a blog post that is supposed to be selling Canadians on a new service. Astonishing.

But what’s the kicker? Even that sales job doesn’t work. The Americans who put this malarkey together are too autistic and chauvinistic to have queried their own search engine to learn that Canada has provinces and territories.

It recognized Penetanguishene and Quispamsis, but not Iqaluit. (Nunavut does not exist.) How does it pronounce the name of the province between Alberta and Manitoba? “Saas katch a waan.” But is there a kicker redux? Indeed there is: The system doesn’t work with blocked phone numbers. Actual responses from this service:

  • Say just the city and state, like “San Francisco, California.”
  • What city and state?
  • You can also type in the five-digit ZIP code.

We’re Google. Our shit is second-rate, but you’re the ones we’ll make fun of.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.06.28 14:10. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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