In 2006, when Google's CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at the Dubai Leaders Forum, the reception he received was all warm and fuzzy. Everyone wanted to talk to him, and everyone wanted to know what Google was going to do next.
Fast forward to this week's Abu Dhabi Media Summit. Everyone still wanted to talk to Schmidt, but the warm and fuzzy feelings were gone, to be replaced by questions about China, privacy, accusations of uncompetitive behaviour and the dwindling advertising revenue facing the print media industry.
As one reporter asked Schmidt: "Where did it all go wrong?" Schmidt's response was a derisive, but true: "That's a typical news question. This is success, guys!"
True, and Google is now becoming a victim of its own success.
The distrust that has grown up over the past few years is because Google's technology works wonderfully. As a result, the company knows at least digitally where all the bodies are hidden. It knows what we search for, what we write about, the contents of our emails, what we take pictures of, what our streets look like, what we want to see and, thanks to applications like Latitudes, it knows where we are at any given time. The fact that we have freely given this information to Google doesn't make people any less nervous.
Schmidt's response is "trust us". He says the company has a financial incentive to protect that data, even as they allow advertisers to use it.
Google has now become a company that is too big to fail. The fact that it could fail may seem ludicrous now, just as the failure of Lehman Brothers did, but a Google failure doesn't have to be financial.
Google was hacked in China, an attack which resulted in the loss of its intellectual property and the personal information of some of its users. It can and probably will happen again.
However, a financial failure isn't impossible either. It isn't even inconceivable. Google's income comes mainly from online advertising revenue, a situation that has angered a number of players who used to see that money come their way.
Schmidt summed it up himself with a touch of sarcasm: "We're taking all the money away from the newspaper, the magazine and the telcos? Anyone else?"
There doesn't have to be anyone else. The news media, led by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, are aggressively trying to find ways to get that revenue back and have begun going back to the walled-garden business model to cut Google out. Their success so far could at best be described as limited, but they have by no means given up the chase.
The advertisers themselves are unhappy that Google is currently the dominant way to reach their audience. Brands don't want to have to rely on search engines or social networks. They want to find a way to bring adverts directly to an audience. They, too, are furiously looking for a way to get around Google, but by one estimate, brands are about 10 years behind Google when it comes to the technology to deliver direct advertising over the internet.
Nothing last forever just ask MySpace and AOL and while Google's success is based largely on incredibly innovative thinking and technology, sooner or later someone will come out with something better. How will a company that has one of the world's largest databases of our personal information act when faced with a competitor that takes away its revenue?
Google makes sure that everyone knows the company's motto is "Don't be Evil", but will shareholders allow the motto to prevail when faced with tough financial decisions?