Google does a lot of things well, maybe too well, and it's adding to its portfolio of tools on a weekly basis. At some point you have to look at the number of pies in which Google has its fingers and start to get a little frightened of this company. I came across this video the other day and it really summed up just how pervasive Google is.
Here's just a sample of what they've done in the last few weeks:
- Announced an initiative to bring high-speed broadband to select cities and towns in the US.
- Launched a new application marketplace similar to Salesforce.com's AppExchange where Google Docs corporate users can find third-party applications that link to the Google Docs eco-system and work with Calendar, eMail and so forth.
- Launched Google Public Data Explorer, a new Labs project to view public data in interesting ways.
As Google deftly moves into more and more areas of our computing lives, at some point you have to stop and ask yourself if this is a good thing, or if it's something to watch closely because with every tool (as the video shows), the more information Google has about you.
Will It Ever Stop?
I remember writing years ago about the uncanny ability of Google to keep itself in the news. Early on as it was developing as a company, that made sense, but today as it lives and breathes as a multi-billion dollar, multi-national behemoth, it's still doing it. You would think that like its corporate alter-ego, Microsoft, it would eventually become slow to change. The larger an organization gets, the less likely it is to innovate, and the more likely it is to rest on its past successes. But Google seems to defy this stereotype.
Should We Be Scared?
I think it's impossible to look at Google, and the amount of information it has been able to collect on us and not be at least a little bit frightened about that. Lately, I've gone so far as to consider giving up Google tools, but instead I actually added a new one to my arsenal when I recently started using the Chrome browser because (much to my chagrin), it's much better than what I had been using (Firefox).
Sure, I could change from Google Reader to something like Bloglines. I could move my email to Yahoo!. I would still have access to my material online, but I wouldn't have that convenience of the single log-on.
And so Google continues to march forward, and we continue to use its tools. We can see the writing on the wall (or perhaps inside the massive databases), yet we can't stop ourselves. The tools are enticing, convenient and free.
But at some point, maybe in the not-too-distant future, perhaps users like me will reach the end point. Maybe we'll decide that we've had enough. The closer I look at Google, the more I consider it. I don't see how you can't at least think about it.