When users typed in "sell" in the search bar on Google Finance, Google automatically directed them to the page for Apple's stock.
The Sydney Morning Herald claimed Google must know something it didn't, and accused the outfit of actively undermining the value of Apple's shares.
The tinfoil hat brigade seemed to be implying that because Google's Android was a rival to Cupertino, it was using its search system to cause financial problems for Apple.
The situation became so bad that a spokesperson for Google was dusted off to make a comment. He said that the result was due to its algorithm rather than any concerted effort to undermine Apple's stock.
Apparently the algorithms were keying off of the words 'sell' and "sells" in the description of this stock symbol. Google is working on how to adjust that so it doesn't happen again.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the algorithm is fixed so that when users search for "sell" on Google Finance, it brings up a list of stocks, including Selestra, whose ticker is SELL. Apple is off the list.
However, there might actually be a good reason that Apple was on Google's sell list. The company's shares were overpriced and had lost nearly a third of their value in the last three months.
Apple's share price peaked above $700 three months ago and is now trading just above $500. On a percentage basis, Apple's stock is down much less than either Hewlett-Packard or RIM but all this plummeting has cost shareholders a lot more money.
Over the holidays, BusinessInsider reported how Apple shareholders have lost $175 billion in the last three months. True Apple shares were worth a lot more than the beginning of 2012, but anyone who invested in the company three months ago should be looking to throw themselves off a building now.
It is also likely that the share price in Apple will fall further when shareholders realise that China is failing to be the low hanging fruit that some sections of the press previously claimed. Google's algorithm, it could be argued, was working perfectly before it was tweaked to factor in the Reality Distortion Field that the company and its cohorts work under.