I do have to take them to task for making it another closed beta -- and an invite only one at that! Like Gmail and Orkut, if you're going to roll out Google Gulp, you should roll it out to everyone. Just put the new drinks out there on the store shelves -- and bring out a diet kiwi strawberry flavored one, while you're at it.
Google addresses a number of these concerns on its FAQ page. Still, for the moment, only the lucky few who have already gulped Google Gulp and can give you a required cap lid to drink the product.
I have a few of those lids left over from the advanced case of Google Gulp that was sent to Search Engine Watch. However, strict Google NDA/embargo terms prevent me from giving those to anyone who fails to meet a required "cool" standard as mentioned on the Google Gulp site:
Well, if you know someone who's already been "gulped," they can give you one. And if you don't know anyone who can give you one, don't worry ? that just means you aren't cool.
Unfortunately, I also can't disclose exactly what coolness is, according to Google. Matt Cutts, a software engineer who works closely on coolness projects, said it's one of those "you know it when you see it" types of things. As for the possibility of creating a page on Google where people could check their coolness, he worried it might jeopardize the integrity of cool.
"You can imagine that people would see if they were cool and if not, then they'd change some things and check again, trying to manipulate their coolness," Cutts said. "That's not what we want. If you're naturally cool, our CoolRank technology can detect that. And the best way to be cool is to just think about how humans perceive cool and act that way."
Cutts did add that Google would consider the idea of a coolness checker, as well as the idea of adding a coolness meter to the new Google Toolbar.
"We're always open to new ideas at Google, and we take all feedback seriously," Cutts said. "I can assure you we'll spend a lot of time pretending that we might actually create some type of coolness checking form but which really has a snowball's chance in hell of ever appearing. Um, did I actually say that last part out loud?"
Some privacy advocates have come out against the drinks. Google has a long disclaimer at the bottom of the Google Gulp page saying it won't share information gathered through Google Gulp. But privacy advocates are worried that urine might carry traces of your enhanced personal information. They also object to the 30 year life span of the products.
"Sure, Google says this now. But in 30 years, these products could still be out there, and the company may have completely changed. Who knows what the new management or some firm that takes over might do," said Daniel Brandt, who has started a new Google Gulp Watch site to protest the drinks.
Others also object to Auto-Drink, a feature of the drink that automatically changes your mind. Some are especially worried because they've found it adds things to your mind that you may not have initially intended to have there in the first place.
I can't agree with some of the concerns that have been raised over this. If Auto-Drink were changing the minds of other people, then it would be a concern, and an opt-out should be offered. But you're completely in control of your own mind. Since Google Gulp allows you switch Auto-Drink off, it's completely possible to enjoy the drinks simply as thirst quenchers.
In other news, it's being reported that 7-11 in France has filed a lawsuit over the use of the word "Gulp" by Google. The company feels it infringes on its Big Gulp line of drink containers.
Google responded that if the lawsuit isn't withdrawn, it will ban 7-11 from its search engine, including no longer showing up in Google Local's new "Need A Drink" feature, that maps where 44-ounce beverages can be found in any location.
"We're done fooling around. Sue us, and we'll get even. They're our results, and we're under no obligation to send traffic to anyone. There are plenty of other convenience stores we can send people to," said Google spokesperson Nate Tyler.