I write a great deal about Google mostly because it is always trying new things and putting them out there for free for the world to try. The tools are easy to access and use from wherever you are--any device with a browser and an internet connection--and you can't beat the single-sign on across the tool kit, but for all it has going for it, Google has a major trust issue. Every time I write about Google the comments always include people who won't trust Google with their content ever.
Just last Fall, in fact, Richard Stallman suggested that cloud computing in general was to him a stupid concept (as I wrote in Does Using GMail Mean You're Stupid?). Most likely, he feels this way because it takes the information on our computers out of our control and puts it into the control of corporations. Stallman has a point. Even though I think cloud computing is the future of computing, Google and other cloud vendors face a major trust issue and it's going to be hard to reconcile this.
Gathering Our Information
The trouble is that Google makes things so simple for us to hand over our information and they cover such a wide range of tools from our mail to our RSS feeds to our documents--if we so choose. Whether or not you believe Google is evil, even the most trusting among us has to wonder on some level what Google could do with all that information. If it wanted to, Google could build a fairly complete picture of your online life.
And now Google not only has these tools, it has a browser and an operating system. For now, Android is just a cell phone platform, but there's nothing to stop Google from moving beyond the cell phone. While Microsoft and Apple started on the desktop, then branched out to build a cell phone OS based on the desktop OS, Google is doing it the opposite way, or so it seems.
Just the other day, the guys at VentureBeat did an experiment and managed to get Android running on an Asus EEEPC 1000H. This was a significant accomplishment because it proved that Android could morph from a cell phone OS to a PC OS without a lot of heavy lifting. But it also raises a lot of questions about Google and that darned trust factor.
In one sense, it's hard not to be excited about this news, but in another, it's equally troubling. Reading the VentureBeat post probably jacked up the paranoia factor of every person who believes that Google's ultimate goal is world domination. And you can't help but wonder can you? It's hard not to have a nagging feeling about any company growing as rich (even with the market capitalization losses) and powerful as Google.
Which brings us back to Microsoft. The economy will recover sooner or later and the Big 3--Apple, Microsoft and Google--will still be standing. These three companies (and others) will continue to act as a check against one another, but what if Google starts to pull ahead and what if Microsoft grows weaker?
As I suggested in my last post, The News Gets Worse for Poor, Pitiful Microsoft, we actually need a strong and thriving Microsoft. As much as many people want to see Microsoft suffer for its past sins when it was the top dog, the fact is that Microsoft remains the best check against Google's growing power. And as Google's power grows, the trust factor grows with it.