Steve nails it! Still plenty of time to fix this. Still early in the game. Provide clean APIs and interfaces to AutoLink so others can play too.
From Deaf dumb and blind boys.:
So just when everybody thinks there is no new Borg, along comes Larry, Moe, and Sergey to take over the show. The thing that’s making me angry is not that history is repeating itself, but that stupidity is repeating itself. How hard is it to realize that delivering a service that makes users feel powerless is not a good thing. Particularly users with loaded weapons called blogs and ‘casts. Who cares if you can do it because. Forget the stuff about do no evil. Do no stupid.
Over and over incumbents are walking up to the light at the end of the tunnel and saying, "Looks like a train." If Google leverages its scale to create new inventory around links, the net effect will be to incent competitors to route around it. Just as Google destabilized Office by creating the world’s fastest (and free) spell checker, reference tool, and pizza delivery service, so too will a craigslistian series of competitors destabilize Google if they are stupid enough to persist in refusing a conversation with the very beta-testers who are their partners.
How do they cross the chasm Microsoft seems congenitally unable to ford? By cooperating on a standard link arbitration that lets users choose which variant or composite of the service they want. Join in a public-facing dialogue to establish an API for addressing link rendering, so that Google’s AutoLink can be chosen or spliced as a service with other offerings. Invite Microsoft to join in, given their SmartTag prior art. Then invite MyYahoo, who may be hard pressed to join in given their Roach Motel leanings around attention metadata. In ten minutes, your messaging goes from hailstorm to brainstorm.