Don Norman: Google doesn’t get people, it sells them

161 Comments

Don Norman at dConstruct“What is Google? What do they sell?” asks Don Norman, the author of The Design of Everyday Things and a demigod of the design world.

It’s a question that gets asked a lot, especially as the company’s power and products continue to expand. In a talk on Friday at the dConstruct conference in Brighton, England, he pointed out that –despite the complexity of the organization — the answer usually looks pretty simple.

“They have lots of people; lots of servers, they have Android, they have Google Docs, they just bought Motorola. Most people would say ‘we’re the users, and the product is advertising,'” he said. “But in fact, the advertisers are the users and you are the product.”

Then he went further. “They say their goal is to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place, but really their goal is to gather all of the people in the world and sell them.”

These aren’t exactly new allegations. “You are the product” has become a popular rallying cry over the last couple of years, with plenty of ammunition fired at Google, (s goog) Facebook and others for their apparent invasions of privacy, their ability to track what we do online, and their ambitions to profit from it.

Nor is Norman’s dislike of the company a sudden conversion. Now 75, he has a distinctive track record of piling on Google — including a famous essay in which he attacked the idea of Google’s simplicity, claiming that “Anybody can make a simple-looking interface if the system only does one thing.” In addition, as a former vice president at Apple, (s aapl) which has come increasingly into competition with Google over the years, you can imagine that he’s not exactly a disinterested party.

Still, his comments were forceful, and they have taken on a new meaning given the context of recent events.

For example, Norman argued that the company’s inhumanity — its inability to understand what is emotionally true about products like Apple’s — is a serious problem. More particularly, he suggested that Google’s approach to emotion, and to people, is the real reason for the debacle over real names on Google+.

“Real names, they say, turn out to be the names on your driver’s license and your passport and your credit cards so that they can track you. Are you happy to be a product?”

I saw more than a few developers in the audience bristle at this apparently uncomfortable idea, or taking umbrage with Norman’s attack. But Eric Schmidt himself admitted that the real names approach is about becoming a broker of online identities.

Ultimately, his charge was one that Google has seen many times before: that it is a machine which needs humans but doesn’t like them very much. Whether it’s in its social networks, its interfaces, or other elements of its design, Google is merely applying a thin veneer that often apes Apple’s approach without understanding it.

“Google doesn’t understand people,” he said. “Have you ever spoken to a Google support person on the phone? They don’t have them. Sure, they’ll direct you to their blogs — where you’ll be lucky if you can find the answer you’re looking for — or they’ll let you give feedback. But do they ever give you feedback on your feedback?”

161 Comments

Jim H

“Same business model as television.”
Exactly. Notice all the highly-intelligent TV? Oh. Not. But there is a huge collection of demographic-driven pandering.

Jake

Google sheep: Give them free food, and they’ll follow you straight to the slaughterhouse!!

MichaelBrianBentley

To read Don Norman referred to as “a former Apple employee” brings on a smile.

I think the article ought to at least mention, if only a little bit, what Dr. Norman has been doing for the last decade, perhaps even what he is doing now.

Michael Kaplan

Once you decide to go public, then what? I mean, everyone already has your identity. Is there anything to hide? I get tired of entering the same data in multiple places. Hopefully this social identify issue will get fixed. Just fix it, Google! Make it all converge.

TS

By and large the dichotomy between Google and Apple is that Apple regards your personal information private and isn’t looking to monetize on it and that Google has to monetize on your information to maintain their business model.

This fact in and of itself tells you everything you need to know about the humanity of each company.

For the record context based ads are terrible, simply because they can only tell you about things you searched for or weighted heavily in the past. This does not give credence or knowledge of anything I want in the future, nor does it have any context for why I was searching for the original term.

For example, we needed new office chairs at work. I spent 5 days searching for office chairs, now I get ads for office chairs daily. I’m not interested in office chairs, but my office is. More to the point I research any terms I’m not instantly familiar with. That leads to a broad and mind numbing number of useless contextual ads. In fact I’m constantly wondering how Google Ads make any money whatsoever because I can’t imagine a day wherein I would actually click on one.

NickD

Awesome article! Don Norman is amazing!

Screw Google! De-googlify yourself now!

Howey Feltersnatch

“Real names, they say, turn out to be the names on your driver’s license and your passport and your credit cards so that they can track you. Are you happy to be a product?”

That’s why my company is on Google+ while I – as a human person – am not. My company is happy to be a product, because, well that’s what it is.
I think Don norman is right and I got it right as well.

gprovida

Makes sense. Apple has a set of strick policies, they don’t sell iTunes info and for in app store purchase you need to opt-in for personal info to be sold. This of course drives magazines and newspapers nuts since they don’t sell these products they also sell their readers. The logic is would our customers want us to sell their information would we want our info sold? This is very very different. There may be screwups, e.g., location data software bug that got fixed, but this is not the same as we sell, but oops got caught, e.g., Android.

Jake B.

Jeez doesn’t anybody know who this guy is?? He’s been an academic in usability since the sixties. He joined Apple as a Fellow in 1995 and left in 1998. Apple has not been a significant part of his career.

Try not to see everything in life through the lens of your favorite football team rivalries. Everything is not Coke vs Pepsi.

Jim H

I’m in with him. I like Google searches. I like gmail. Whenever they try going outside that, it’s a monstrosity.

Ken Heins

Yes, I can get a return phone call at least within 24 hours, often sooner. And even though I have a 4 year old Macbook, by explaining the problem I am having, its typically at no cost and its accurate. I have called about 6 times in 4 years.

bemoneyaware

Great products are dime a dozen. Quoting an excerpt from the book
“Can you personally make a better hamburger then McDonald’s?”
So far 100% of the people I have talked with have talked with about their new idea have said “yes”. They can all prepare, cook, and serve a better quality hamburger then McDonald’s.
At this point , I ask them the next question: “Can you personally build a better business system than McDonald’s?
Some people see the difference immediately, and some do not. And I would say the difference is whether the person is fixated on the left side of the Quadrant, which is focused on the idea of the better burger, or on the right side of the quadrant, which is focused on the system of business.
I do my best to explain that there are a lot of entreprenuers out there offering far superior products or services than are offered by the mega-rich multinational corporations, just as there are billions of people who can make a better burger than McDonald’s But only McDonald’s has the system that has served billions of burgers.
-Robert Kiyosaki “Cashflow Quadrant”

Kristine Schachinger

Google’s G+ is an Identity Service provider for what will be the NSTIC or the “National Strategy For Trusted Identities In CyberSpace” It will not be about selling your information, but about developing an online “trust” (read tracking) system where a few private companies will hold your online identity, so you can be “held accountable (Schmidt’s words)” verified, etc etc under the guise of security and efficiency.

This is not comspiracy theory or supposition, it is factual and the reason Eric Schmidt called it an identity network…. because it is one….noting too that Google held the international meeting of the UK version of the NSTIC in its George Orwell room (ironic isn’t it?)

PS go to Google.com/Dashboard to view how Google is already keeping track of your social relationships even ones you did not give them access to…

For the supporting documentation on G+ as part of the government’s Identity Ecosystem google — Real Names: G+, Government & The Identity Ecosystem … additional links in the comments

Wilson

It’s funny, i’m feeling deja-vu! Ten or more years ago…everybody was thinking that $gates was the guy who gives us the internet, the gui, they are so proud of $gates that any criticism made to him sparkled a war…last week someone made a comparison of $gates and… you know who?

Idon't Know

Anyone who things Gates gave us the internet knows very little. Microsoft was actually quite late to the internet.

Marcos_El_Malo

Duh, it was Al Gore! Are they no longer teaching memes in school?

cubicspace

How would many male tech geeks ever learn about feminine hygiene issues without getting those “non important” product ads? Beware the singualrity of knowledge you seek to have.

beenyweenies

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that, given the choice, MOST people would prefer to see targeted ads than generic ones with no relevance to them.

Anti-Google types love to hit this issue of data collection over and over, claiming they are evil because they analyze your behavior and therefore “you are the product.” But the relationship is more complex than that. You get free stuff like Chrome, Documents, Picasa, etc. in return for letting Google see the sites you visited, and even then you can ALWAYS log in to your Google account and delete the entire history they’ve collected.

It’s also never been shown that they’ve abused that information. Unlike Facebook, I don’t think there’s ever been a data breach, a case of them selling people’s data to third parties or anything that the average person would consider an inconsiderate use of their private information.

Anon2

Anon, +1 has been used to show approval on many sites long before Google+, Halfbakery for example.

sorornishi

If you have followed the nymwars at all you would know that Google is working with the US Government to provide an identity service to help with homeland security. Cries of ‘paranoid’ do not alter the fact that they are used constantly to monitor people. They are now the major players in the identity business and you have no recourse to see your file, no guarantee of it’s secure location and no possibility of erasing it, no legal rights if it is misused etc etc.
To believe they are simply supplying a good free service in return for you looking at some ads is astoundingly naive.

Ponder

So far, I have doubt but still I have high hopes for Google, I want them to be trusted keepers and guards of the internet for the citizens of the world. Apparently now they want to be an identity service, but with no checking of IDs. Wait, what?

Is that a service we need? If they do start using actual true information to correct problems, and it worked, globally, it would be very convenient for companies and military dictatorships, but not so much for consumers and citizens. I don’t really want that sort of a service.

I trust Apple to make great products that also run HTML5 so all complaints of a closed system for users are ignoring a basic feature of the iOS. I don’t really trust Google anymore to do anything but show ads on web pages.

Marcos_El_Malo

I used to be really jazzed by what I perceived as idealism at Google. Since I can’t fix a particular point of realization, I guess I should say that it slowly dawned on me that Google was just another corporate monstrosity that happens to make some useful things, but that doesn’t have my best interests at heart. I still use Google services. Apple, too, is a corporate monstrosity, but they make really nice and useful stuff. They might not have my interests at heart, but they make money directly from satisfying me. I think that does put it a notch ahead of Google. But that’s just me.

Bob

if Google were not threatened so much by facebook and apple business models, Google would have probably remained the gentle and jolly giants. This is not an excuse, just an observation on why Google is changing into a different sort of beast.

Bob

wow more scare mongering by a former Apple exec. If buying a cheap mass produced Apple device manufactured by pitiable and massively exploited slave labor in China fulfills the emotional needs of users, then users need to get a life. By the way the real consumers of Apple Iphone are the carriers, the carriers buy the Iphone and sell it to the end users.

quentin

Do you actually believe that Android devices aren’t created in the same type of factories and conditions? Or the hardware that runs Google’s data centers? HA

tim jones

poster never mentioned Android, all that was mentioned was Apple’s crappy trinkets. This iSheep is freaking out that Apple crappy cash-cow iPhone is getting further and further behind Android

Jim H

Forget it, quentin. People like him live in a little dream world where Apple = EVIL and Google = GOOD. Jobs is Mussolini. Moble Flash = choice. Nothing can dislodge the meme.

Scruff

Dont worry Quentin, anyone who uses the term iSheep as an argument is far more of a sheep themselves than they realize. Every one of Tim Jones’ comments on here indicate that he’s a die-hard fandroid, one of the sheep of the Android kind – so blinded by the light shining out of Sergey’s buttcrack that he can’t think for himself anymore.

Bob

I know that, but article states that apple devices are emotionally satisfying. So I just took a potshot. I know everything is manufactured in China. I just question his assumption that selling hardware devices is morally and ethically superior to making money via advertising. I would argue, since google democratizes access to information ex a shanty dweller in Brazil gets the same access to information that the CEO of Apple gets via google search, now how empowering is that. I would argue that google business model is superior to Apple. But that is silly. I enjoy products from a lot of different companies and yes that includes Apple.

Marcos_El_Malo

@Bob:

Fair enough. I’ve gotten fairly minimalist and anti-consumer society myself, although I still love good tools, and when I buy them, I want the best. Since I’ve given up a high salary to live in a developing nation and to have a lot of free time, I can’t always afford the best, so a lot of the time I make do. It’s a choice I’ve made and I’m mostly happy living with it.

I do love Apple gear. It’s worth it to me to economize in other areas to be able to afford it. I just pulled the trigger on an iPad, which I am planning to use as my primary PC (we’ll see how that goes). This means I’ll be using public transportation for the next several months or so, which I don’t mind. OK, that was a lie. Public transport here is a pain in the ass. Wednesdays? That’s the bus drivers day off, so if I want to go to town I have to walk 3 km to the highway and catch a bus there. Could be worse, but it’s a pain in the ass. Still, I’ll put up with it because the iPad will be worth it for me. I considered the Macbook Air, but I really want my own car or motorcycle before the end of the year!

Marcos_El_Malo

more @bob:

Also, having worked at times in the advertising industry I can say, yeah, it’s pretty evil. Not as bad as the music business, though, so they at least have that.

Idon't Know

If you knew what you were talking about or had actually read the article and comprehended it you would know his time at Apple is minor.

Oh and hey Android kiddies and whiners…you know what computers are overwhelmingly used at Google? Macs. Macs everywhere you look.

Idon't Know

Oh and also at Motorola, Macs everywhere, plus Cisco, Oracle, IBM…

Bob

yes and Eric Schmidt called Steve Jobs the best CEO ever, your point child ?

Marcos_El_Malo

Mind sharing your phone # and extension, so we can reach you? :)

KenG

Another case of making good the enemy of perfect. Politicians are usually the master of this tactic, and it’s a common marketing weapon for companies to highlight their competitors flaws on minor issues while ignoring their real advantages, but Norman sounds like another iphone fan putting down android.

If you’re on a search for the perfect company, you’re going to have a disappointing life. While I think Apple is a great company (my favorite and most valuable holding of all the stocks I own), they are far from perfect. I could spend all day describing aspects of their computers, tablets, phones, and services that frustrate and annoy me, just as I can with Google. However, while I can provide even more complaints about companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP, etc. (that set is much bigger). those companies have far less redeeming value. And if your target is companies that hoard personal information and sell it to third parties, Google would be nowhere near the top of the list of offenders.

Constructive criticism is valuable. Vendettas are not.

It’s also not fair to compare Google’s business model with Apples’; Google sells information and Apple sells hardware. Apple has no need to monetize any information it gathers, other than to create products that people will buy.

quentin

I don’t see anywhere in the article that said Apple was perfect. Criticism of Google doesn’t equal blind praise of Apple. There is a clear, visible distinction between how Apple designs it’s products around the human element in comparison to other companies though. Saying Apple is better at it, doesn’t mean they’re perfect. How do you make that leap?

KenG

I’m sorry, the comments about Apple were meant as a reply to PXLated’s comments above. I should have kept them separate, or at least referenced those comments, but I got a little lazy.

tim jones

“demigod of the design world”? Apple designs overhyped, overpriced crappy trinkets

quentin

Jealousy? Just because they do it well? Seriously, how naive do you have to be to actually believe that Apple’s success is due purely to a brainwashed cult-like following buying garbage products because they don’t know any better? It’s simply astounding that you can be so poor at critical thinking to end up at this conclusion, of all things.

Chris

Tim Jones, you need new jokes. iSheep? crApple?

You’re not funny and you sound like an angry person who didn’t get hired by Apple. I fee sorry for you.

mark

Hey, Tim. I heard someone said something bad about Google over at Reddit. Why don’t you go over there for a while?

foljs

Yes. Probably that is why they get those tons of design awards and huge respect from the design community for their “trinkets”…

Overpriced? Hello, the 90’s called, they want their argument back –in several markets Apple keeps beating competitors on price (tablets, high end and ultra-portable laptops).

Overhyped? Could it be because people, er, LIKE them?

Are you one of those guys that threw a Windows Vista launch party?

anon

Tim Jones did you have surgery at a very young age? It seems like you did to me, there could be no other explanation for your stupidity. It’s as if they made a large hole on the top of your cranium. After, they removed all brain tissue from your skull, and replace it with bags of shit. Not just any shit, but shit that had been ingested and digested repeatedly. They might’ve added some boiling spoiled semen. Lastly they garnished your shit filled skull with scrotum sweat.

Nadav

These attempts to demonize Google are growing rather stale. All that play on words and silly distinctions on what’s the product are meaningless – Google doesn’t hide the fact that it makes money from advertising. The deal is very clear – you get free services (in most cases) in exchange for viewing ads.
The bits about Google’s design are also just silly. Why does he try so hard to make what Google’s doing sound bad? Did they ever claim they were the only ones capable of making a simple interface? No. They made the choice to use that design, and that’s it. However, if we take for example Chrome’s design, we see that the minimalism *is* actually appealing to users, and suddenly everyone else is designing their browsers a lot more like Chrome.
This example goes to show that it’s just meaningless to treat a company so big as a single entity, and make dumb claims that it’s inhuman etc. There are PEOPLE working there, like you and me. Some of them may be less sensitive to most people’s emotions, but the vast majority (by simple laws of probability) will be normal people.

John Daily

“The deal is very clear – you get free services (in most cases) in exchange for viewing ads.”

No, you’ve just highlighted the fact that people don’t understand the deal. You get free services in exchange for Google analyzing your personal data and viewing habits in order to target you with ads.

Ads I don’t mind. Google reading my email to find out what ads are most relevant? That I mind.

Nadav

It’s not my fault you’re stuck in the previous century, when then were very few targeted ads, and the common business model was generic ads on the TV, newspapers etc.
The world has changed, and targeted ads have proven very effective across the whole advertising industry, not just Google. It is still early in the game, but anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that the ads he sees aren’t exactly the same as the next person is just ignorant. As the saying goes: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

In this case, however, I think many people who are aware of targeted ads fail to realize it is probably in their interest as well. There is no point in showing me an ad for, let’s say, female hygiene products, because I happen to be a man. The ad space could be much more effective if it showed me tech products for example, or promotions for a sports event. In this sense, it’s a win-win situation.

The downside is indeed the uncertainty of who has information about you and what it can be used for besides these ads. But we’re straying quite far from the original argument – the point remains that Google is most of the times upfront about its collection of your data (barring the very notable street view wifi incident), and has yet to be proven to mishandle that data. I’m not saying it can’t happen or that you shouldn’t be wary, but there’s no point in mud-slinging based on future potential wrong-doings.

P.S.
The same cannot be said for Facebook, for example, which has been shown several times to mishandle your private information. That’s a much bigger privacy problem than Google at the moment.

anon

“Google reading my email to find out what ads are most relevant? That I mind.”

If Google is “reading” your email to suggest ads then so is Microsoft, they are “reading” your Word document to suggest the correct spelling. Oh look there is a red squigly, Firefox just “read” what I typed.

Tom Dibble

“The world has changed, and targeted ads have proven very effective across the whole advertising industry, not just Google.”

True. But, is this good for the consumer?

I’d argue that it could be, and quite often is, but is often enough not. For instance, when you are barraged by ads for Hooters on every web page you visit because you sent an off-color joke via your gmail account.

Given socially-retarded face-palms like Buzz, do you trust Google to make the “right” choice about when serving targeted advertising benefits the customer and when it does not?

“If Google is “reading” your email to suggest ads then so is Microsoft, they are “reading” your Word document to suggest the correct spelling. Oh look there is a red squigly, Firefox just “read” what I typed.”

Surely you are technically competent enough to realize the difference between an in-memory operation which leaves no permanent record and a cloud-sourced operation which by design leaves records in multiple cross-referenced databases which are backed up and retrievable by anyone who cares to retrieve them, right?

Google scans your mail using a proprietary AI algorithm which is intended to decipher what topics you are interested in from the content. It then records those topics of interest, along with who you sent the mail to and when, so that it can more reliably “serve” you advertisements which exploit those interests. It is not perfect yet (although you have *no idea* how close to perfect it really is!), but that is certainly Google’s goal. “Google reading your mail” is a perfectly apt description of the process.

Jorge

Once again, we get an Indian named guy, probably engineer, defending Google.

Stephan

“[…] an Indian named guy, probably engineer […]”

…by which you mean, more intelligent than you?

austin

finally a voice of reason. google is some big evil corporation out to bag you, tag you, and sell you off to the highest bidder, they dont go through your email and read your private conversations, they are just a bunch of programmers, artists, and engineers. far as i understand it google has the most higher ups which actually understand technology, most decisions are made by consulting the individuals working there. most products are open source so anyone can work on them even if they arent employees, and they can make them better.

there is an impulse in many people to see something which lots of people like and which lots of people say nice things about and trust and just instinctively think “they are evil” this in turn leads to a cognitive bias against the company and anything they can find to support this bias they latch onto.

LMARK III

i was just wondering, if Google gives Most of its Products for free i.e Android OS then how the hell will they make money to pay their staffs? i know for sure that No body opens Business just to give stuff away for free, Profit usually is involved. so therefore i will agree that they may be involved in other Stuff to make money, like getting and selling user Data. now it all makes sense!

Steve Ardire

> “Google doesn’t understand people”

That’s why Schmidt says G+ is an ‘Identity Service’ right ;)

Jack C

You are always the product, regardless of whether or not you pay too. You either pay to be the product, are the product in exchange for a service, or live off the grid.

People tend to forget that other apt adage, about wondering who the sucker at the table is. If by paying for a service, you think that your information isn’t *also* being monetized, then you’re not just paying for the service, but you’re also the sucker at the table.

Ask Bjørn Hansen

No, sometimes you are the customer. When I buy an iPod from Apple I’m their customer. When I buy advertising from Google I’m their customer.

The iPod is Apple’s product. Someone searching on Google is their (paid) product. Google have lots of free products, too.

Tom Dibble

Apple makes a whole lot more money when I buy an iPad than they could serving me ads. Apple measures customers in the millions. To put it another way: if they start violating my trust, they lose my business, and in quite short order, lose their business as well.

Google makes all its money selling access to my peripheral vision. Their customers number in the billions, and are often unwitting. If they start violating my trust, I’ll try to protect myself, but if I stop using their services they don’t lose much.

Google has much less to lose by abusing your trust in them. Yes, any company might sell your data, especially in a going-out-of-business pinch, but that doesn’t mean there is a real and qualitative difference between the company whose business plan is “sell your data” versus one whose business plan is “sell products to you”.

paul martin

Why should Google which is often “free” open its staff to potential personal verbal telephone abuse – people always know their problems far better than the help desk jockey who over a narrow channel without all the info may struggle to diagnose and fix the particular issue. After all software is a work in progress.

As for the bottom line no “feedback on feedback” from Google this is a not-so-clever phrase which does not reflect the truth. Just two days ago over the weekend Brenda of Google in Seattle gave me an answer within 24 hours, and I am in a different time zone. In my experience Google online support is very good; I am sure that people will have bad experiences, some with Apple – it’s all part of life’s rich pattern.

quentin

I think you missed his point. It’s not that they never respond, it’s that they do not view the user as a user, but, rather, a product, a commodity, so their responses are toned as such (from a company-wide standpoint, individuals paying proper attention to users can run counter to the larger corporate attitude)

Dale

In a previous role, I managed Google For Business accounts. These are not free (we paid $5 per user per month, with around 150 users), but are pushed to the same forums full of people asking – but never receiving answers to – questions that the “free” users get pushed to.

No matter how much you pay Google or Facebook, they have clearly made a point that customer service means treating their customers as individuals, and that’s not something they wish to do.

And sure, many Google products are free to end users, but Google makes money from our use of those products through the advertising they can then sell.

anon

You must be a bad admin. When I check my Apps admin control panel there is UK, Canada, USA and Rest of the world phone numbers. I also use the Enterprise Portal not the free forum. So far average response rate from a Google employee is about 30 minutes. Not bad.

PXLated

His point is probably that you should protect yourself from them all. But, when it comes to Apple, they do do a better job protecting your identity. Selling you is not their line of business. Same with Amazon. Whereas, it IS Google’s only business.

tim jones

Don’t trust close, secretive, neurotic crApple- it might show at your door looking for its lost iCrap

foljs

@tim jones

Yes, how absurd of a company to want to track a lost and then stolen prototype device in a business worth billions of dollars…

Bob

yes your identity is safer in the hands of one corporate master than the other, it is safer to be a slave of Apple, than a slave of google. Yes it also helps the shareholders of Apple, but that is moot and is morally just.

perpetuity

Good golly there are still idiots posting on the internet?! crApple, really? That’s all you bring to the conversation?

ihbrune

It’s funny in a sad way to hear a former Apple employee ranting about the ‘inhumanity’ of some company when it’s Apple that wants to put us in a (not so) golden cage.

I stay with the company that gives me choice. Especially the choice to leave.

quentin

haha, the absurdity of this statement is amusing. Sure, you can ‘leave’ by stopping using their products (why can’t you do that with Apple?) but they’re going to keep records of EVERYTHING you do for years after you’re gone. You can ‘leave’ but they keep every bit of information they have on you.

beenyweenies

That’s actually not true. You can log in to your google account and see all of the web history they’ve collected, and delete every bit of it if you so choose.

windstorm

I guess the absurdity of your statement and your lack of understanding is amusing

Carlos A. Osuna

quentin: They will keep a ‘photograph’ of days past, just as a news paper or a traffic camera.

All of “Baby Boomers”, “Generation-X”, etc. see ‘privacy’ on a different light as “Millennial/Generation-Y”. There life depends on being seen, being tracked, actively or passively.

They’re the generation who hates anonymity. That’s the real audience of Facebook, Twitter and Google. They can care less if they are the product (which is just a rhetorical rant), the raw material or which ever in between.

Of course, he has a point, on feelings, which Apple gets. But we must remember that he’s doing a generalization, which explains why Android is beating Apple and why Microsoft can’t ‘get-it’. There’s just two markets (over 30’s and under 30’s). The first one likes Apple, the second one likes Google. Facebook must work in between and so does Microsoft/Bing.

ArtimusMacimus

beenyweenies, You are right. You are also wrong. Have you ever heard of Google Cache. They keep everything on file for as long as they decide to, i.e. forever. Do you really think they don’t hold those files for Government Agents and Law Enforcement.
The same as all the computer manufactures have back doors so the police and other agents can quickly and easily gather your info in an investigation.

tim jones

all the iSheeps sitting in rows staring at Steve Jobs big head, like Apple’s 1994 ad

Infobhan

The pleural of sheep is sheep. The ad was a reference to 1984, the book. I am not aware of a similar work about 1994. Lastly, you are missing an apostrophe after Jobs.

Ted Wood

It was 1984. Get your facts straight before posting. And no need of name-calling, is there?

Visitor

@Infobhan: “pleural”?! What keyboard do you use, that has an “e” between “l” and “u”?

Liquidmark

Apple gives you the choice to leave too. If you don’t like Apple’s product, then simply do not buy it or stop buying it.

cranston

The choice to leave? I don’t understand this concept.

I’m a PC-user, never much cared for Apple’s products. But with any product company, the premise is simple: If you like their products, you buy them. If you don’t any time in the future, you buy another. There’s no information stored or kept about you, and no reason you can’t leave. I’m confused with your statement about “staying” with a company that gives you the choice to leave.

Looking at Google, bits and pieces of you stay live and remote, no matter how much you delete, if you decide to “leave.” Take Gmail: when you “delete” an email, still remains on the server if it’s deemed important or relevant to Google’s algorithms. Sure, it’s flagged to not be shown to you, the user, but the matter of fact is, you’re just but one interested party in that email, despite what you might think. Plus, Google has the ability to discontinue any product that you use, without the ability to continue to use it (Let’s say Microsoft discontinued Office, ridiculous of course, but you’d still have the software, the documents, etc. If Google discontinued Google Docs, where’s your data? What software do you use to edit it?). Google also has the ability to terminate your access to your *own* data at any time, if they feel they need to. Apple or Dell have no such power. Every time you turn your laptop on, unless it’s broken, your laptop turns on. Regardless of whether these companies still exist.

So I guess I really don’t understand how you have more of a choice to leave with Google than with Apple.

Concerned Citizen

Correct. Google does terminate accounts with no prior notice or ability to remedy a “violation” of their business rules (which are subject to change upon whim).

Xympa

The battle that you present, isn’t actually Company vs. Company, it’s actually Hardware vs. Cloud.

Andrew Weisz

“Google also has the ability to terminate your access to your *own* data at any time”

Use Backups. The same way everyone else should. You can edit it in open office, vim, notepad, msPaint. Not the perfect editing tools, but editors none the less.

” Take Gmail: when you “delete” an email, still remains on the server if it’s deemed important or relevant to Google’s algorithms.”

ISP’s are starting to do this. The kid across the street might be wiresharking you. Do you use any decent program to wipe your old data off your drives? Then your data is still there, waiting to be gone over with someone else’s algorithm.

The company you work for probably has data on you. The grocery store. The credit card companies. Etc.

Leaving data around is akin to leaving Carbon Dioxide when you breath.

i.p.freely

You think you have a choice? You think it’s okay for company to treat you as a commoditiy? Listen you idiot, I can choose to use or not use an Apple product. But you don’t even know that you are being lied to and your information being sold without your consent when you use Google product.

Good luck with that “Choice” of yours.

anon

Would you please point me to the checkout spot where I can buy your info and how much would that be?

travisgamedev

Call Google and tell them you’re a company looking to buy logistics information about their users. They will show you the checkout spot.

anon

@travisgamedev

Lying doesn’t make it true.
Google grants access to location based demographics for people advertising through Adwords and/or Adsense. Companies like Microsoft when you sign up for Hotmail full on sells your name, demographic and contact details out right.

JulesLt

Personally, I prefer a company where my relationship is that they produce something and I’ll buy it if I like it – commercial radio was rubbish, free-to-air commercial TV is mostly rubbish, and the commercial web we are being told is ‘the only way’ is mostly ad-cluttered rubbish.

There is the freedom of open source, of course, but the server side web largely takes that freedom away from the user.

Google actually remind me of the Apple of old – the ‘Think Different’ era when they used politics to sell their products. Now it’s Google that are the big business pretending they are the alternative.

Adrian O'Connor

I know the other replies have already said this, but what are you talking about? In what world are you forced to stay with Apple? Apple offer you a product that you can either take or leave. There is no one forcing you to buy. There is no lock in. The choice between (say) Dell and Apple is like the choice between Ford and Toyota. Choose either, it doesn’t matter. Next time you can change your mind if you want.

With Google it’s different. They offer good products at seemingly unbeatable prices (free). Google Apps for Domains, for instance, is a great product, but you pay a hidden price — your data. And once you’re invested in the Google way, it’s hard to leave. Getting a new mail server is not a simple task. Leaving Google Docs once you’ve got a reasonable library isn’t going to be plain-sailing. Disabling your Google Profile or leaving Google+ will limit your ability to use other Google services. And let’s not forget the tracking that goes on outside of your regular account — all of those little Analytics scripts in billions of pages across the web aren’t just there to give the webmasters pretty graphs you know.

Me thinks you need some perspective.

Terry

Leaving MS Exchange is easy – you just need a new mail server. Leaving Gmail is impossible – you would need a new mail server. Doesn’t compute.

R M

Any instances where someone saw their “personal” info being exposed by google to someone? Personally I feel Apple forcing having an apple account forcibly linking to a credit card, to download an free app, a stupid act….

Xris

How is that different than iTunes? Perhaps only that iTunes doesn’t tell you up front?

travisgamedev

Look up how to disconnect your credit card from iTunes. It’s pretty simple and you could have chosen that option when you first signed up. You can still use it. You just can’t purchase anything. It’s a good option if you have kids using iTunes.

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