I was greatly pleased when I finally successfully managed to have my phone address book synced with my Gmail contact list earlier this month, my life is so much easier now that I do not need to worry about maintaining multiple address books and I can easily update my phone address live by just editing the one on Gmail. I am amazed at how Google constantly launches excellent products that help solve daily problems in our lives totally free of charge.
Yet as much as I love Google, I am starting to get worried about my attachment to all the various products it runs. Like the majority of people around the world I use Google to search for things on the internet and I use Gmail as my primary email account, but I also use Google Reader to read news and updates from websites I follow, Google Calendar to organize my schedule, Google Docs to track my work files, Google Analytics to review the performance of my blogs, and did I mention that I use Google Chrome browser whenever I can?
While many people think of Microsoft as a company that carries a lot of activities with monopolistic attributes, it no longer seems to be of as big of an impact in a new reality where most applications are web-based and almost completely platform agnostic when it comes to the “desktop” side of things. At this stage dominance of the internet is what really matters, and for me personally, at any moment while I am online, at least three tabs would have a different Google product opened.
Some are worried about the scope of data collected by Google through all its various products and all problems related to the potential retention and abuse of that data for all sorts of things, but what I am worried about is that this expansion of Google into so many different fields could have anti-competitive effects on the industry.
Google has always been good with its data policies and allows you in most of its applications to export your data to another service or completely delete it from their servers, but while it is nice for us to have a company as big and powerful as Google to offer excellent services free of charge (as it can pay for everything from the advertisements revenues it makes), it becomes very difficult for other smaller companies to compete against it because they cannot match the resources of Google. This could lead to a reduction in innovation and consumer choice, and the biggest fear is that one day we will not use Google’s products because they are the best, but because there is nobody else who can offer an alternative. Some might say that this is not necessarily a bad thing as most of Google’s services are excellent, but when all the competition is wiped out, will Google still have an incentive to innovate?
The solution cannot be to boycott Google just because it is doing a great job at satisfying our needs, but we have to maintain an open mind when it comes to alternatives and give other products a chance in order to ensure that there will always be a chance for another option to existing for our own sake.