Google Watch: Time to DuckDuckGo

You can't spell

You can’t spell “Don’t be evil” without “evil”! Coincidence?

Google do a lot of good things. They host free webfonts to make the web a nicer place to be. Their cloudy PaaS service, Engine Yard, gets rave reviews. Their maps are better than anyone’s, their mobile OS is the most popular in the world, and their photo hosting offer is second to none. But they can be very evil sometimes too.

Remember when Google forced you to sign up to Google+ to comment on Youtube videos, or stole your email passwords while they took pictures of your house and then “forgot” to delete it after they got found out and all the Governments told them to, or made you type extra characters to include all your words in their search, or when their CEO said there was no place for privacy and anonymity on the Internet?

* big breath*

Well they are at it again.

And I’ve had enough.

The Devil’s In The Detail

For the last few days I’ve been seeing this ‘privacy reminder’ popup whenever I go to Google (including by searching in Chrome’s address bar). And it stops you dead in your tracks. You have to read through all the legalese before it lets you search for pictures of cats. Well I just don’t have time for that, I need instant cat gratification now!.

That sounds so wrong.

Anyway, I had a quick scan through the privacy reminder and immediately smelled a rat… It all seems really un-evil at first, you can choose to switch off some of Google’s invasive behaviour by following the handy-dandy links in the privacy reminder itself. Wowzers! What a nice thing to do. I opted to switch off all the weird adverts-following-you-around settings. They’re here, in case you’re wondering.

But then I noticed it says these settings are just for this browser. Your other devices and PCs will still track the living crap out of you. Read more

Google’s Project Loon

Google Project Loon. Probably not evil. Probably.

Google Project Loon. Probably not evil. Probably.

Google are doing a lot of “10X innovation” right now. That is innovation that isn’t just incrementally better than the competition (like a 10% improvement) but a moon-shot, 10-times improvement. One of these initiatives is called Project Loon:

You can sometimes see these balloons being tested off the coast of Christchurch, New Zealand, on FlightRadar, which means these craft are equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) systems:

loon_168

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Push vs. Pull

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I don’t know what it is, but I’ll take ten.

There are two ways make a product successful: either you saturate consumers with marketing so there literally is no other choice but to buy it (“push”), or you make the product so appealing that it hardly needs any marketing capital at all (“pull”).

 

Apple

Right now, Apple is proving that pull is the approach to take. While I’m a big fan of Android and my only Apple device is a 3rd Generation iPod from 2007 I have to be realistic here and acknowlege the sheer class and artistry that the Cupertino-based company sinks into each new device.

The iPhone really was the start of a global revolution in touch-screen, internet-enabled, pocket-sized devices and I was dubious when the iPad was launched during a recession at twice the price of its nearest competitors, but I was wrong to doubt the undeniable power of the pull effect.

 

Google+ vs. Facebook

At the same time, I believe Google+ hasn’t been successful because it has been rammed down our throats at every turn. Want a YouTube account so you can comment on a video? You’ll need to sign up to Google+. Want to create a new email account on GMail? Guess what? You’ll need a G+ account… Humans are naturally averse to being forced into something; the aversion is considerably greater when technology is involved and exponentially greater when the service being forced onto us asks for our personal details. Now, Google has shot itself in the foot, Google+ is actually a VERY, VERY GOOD service, Hangouts are incredible and the whole common Google estate idea will make it easier for users to live their lives. But Google shouldn’t have been so arrogant as to tell us what we should be doing.

I strongly believe that the feeling of being “left out” of something is a greater driver to making people take action than being told to take action. The entire Apple reinvention over the past decade has gone from strength to strength on this ethos. Google+ had nothing but great publicity when it was in its early “invitation-only” stage and the not-obligatory launch and acceleration phases after that. It was when Google’s centralised Privacy Policy came about, and then Google+ accounts became mandatory to use completely unrelated parts of Google’s online empire that the really bad stuff started to come out.

Facebook has used the Pull effect since day one too: “my friends are all on Facebook, they’re sharing, they’re talking, I’M BEING LEFT OUT!!!”. And despite their stock price diving with more ability than Tom Daley, nobody is thinking less of the actual service offered. Read more

“Don’t Be Evil” – Do You Trust Google?

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Do you trust Google? Should you trust Google? Can you trust Google?

Google is on the fast train to becoming an international scandal. In May 2010 it emerged that when the company sent out its roving camera cars to take all those “Street View” photos, it also slurped up any and all WiFi data it could find floating through the streets. Including yours!  And not just in the UK but everywhere across the world that Google’s camera cars went. Spain’s not happy. And neither is Germany. France found email passwords when they ordered Google to hand over the collectioned data. Even the laid-back Aussies were pissedRead more

Twitter v2.0

There is a lot of talk around at the moment about Twitter’s new stance on 3rd party applications integrating with the service. Twitter has pretty much banned clone applications like Tweetbot, and went as far as buying Tweetdeck for $40 million.

Twitter says it doesn’t want third party developers to “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” But is that really all? That’s the short-term, but what’s the long game here? Where is Twitter heading?

 

Making Headlines

Facebook is a place of sharing; videos, links, pictures, etc. Pinterest is a place of sharing pictures, in particular. Twitter is a place of sharing words: you have 140 characters to change the world.

This limit is both the most-complained-about feature and its biggest asset; and once you start combining sharing with 140 characters you start to see something emerge: Headlines.

Twitter is becoming the de facto home of soundbites and straight-to-the-point sentiment. Twitter’s users are bringing content to the service and having their say about that content in a raw, unadulterated manner. Unlike Pinterest, Twitter doesn’t require users to contextualise the shared content (or use massive amounts of processing power to analyse pictures for their content). Twitter’s content + opinion is instantly indexable, interpretable and searchable.

Twitter doesn’t require web crawlers to have a database chocked full of important-right-now information. Twitter doesn’t need to index every word on every page in the universe to understand what people think about some content – it is right there in 140 beautifully simple characters.

 

So you’re saying Twitter just made Google Defunct?

I’m saying that Twitter is in a ridiculously strong position to take Google on at its own Search game. Google have dropped the ball by focusing so hard on their social network – Google+ – and have become complacent about the two things that keep them in business: Search (which Twitter can steal the show with) and Ads (which, as I’ve discussed before, Facebook is in an enviable position to clean up with).

So what do Google have left in the innovation stakes? Well, there’s Google Glass, of course. But even I thought that up before they launched it. They have self-driving cars too, but the Volvo SARTRE project looks more fun, and more advanced.

Mind you, Google owns Android, the most prolific smartphone operating system in the world and I am a massive fanboi. It’s just a pity it doesn’t earn Google any money – in fact it costs them millions each year.

And the Chrome browser is the best (and most popular) around. But again: it’s free. There’s little in the way of a business model.

I wouldn’t say they are defunct, no.

But I won’t be investing in GOOG any time soon.

 

Google Glass Steals the Show at IO ’12

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“I’m not staring into space, I’m watching porn. At the GAP. In the linen trousers section.”

Today, Google’s annual IO developers conference kicked off at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. During a talk by patronising Google+ Chief, Vic Gundotra, Google co-founder, Sergey Brin thankfully interrupted wearing one of the pairs of “Google Glass” glasses we’ve seen him and vocally-impaired other-co-founder, Larry Page, sporting lately.One commenter rather epically said, “Coming soon… Applie iPatch?”

I’ve never used Hangouts before, in fact, I’m not much of a Google+ fan (because nobody I know is either), but I can definitely see the appeal of them with technology like Glass out there… Is this a geek-fashion trend for the future?

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