Multiple convergent devices are an inescapable reality in modern life. In my case, (which is not unusual), I have a laptop computer, a desktop computer and a mobile smart phone. All these devices can surf the net, play music and videos, process email and work on documents. This is great but it does raise the question: How do you synchronize all your files so that:
a) you're not editing an out of date document,
b) you have access to those new bookmarks in your browser,
c) you've got the same emails on your cell phone that you have on your desktop?
You can try maintaining multiple versions of your data and institute a rigorous regime of synchronization, but really, that's got knobs on it. The only realistic way to manage the problem is with a single centralised copy of the stuff that is accessible at all times, from all locations. And where is that central location? Well, it's a no brainer: on some internet server, or, as Google like to put it: "on the Cloud".
Cloud computing is such a cogent solution to such a pressing problem that everyone is moving their data there. And not only their data. Since the data is online, it makes sense that the applications should be browser based. Interestingly, in this manner the tyranny of incompatible operating systems can be broken. No longer is the operating system the controlling specification. Now it is little more than the support system for a web browser. Since all browsers use the same HTML specification it matters not whether you are running Symbian, MacOS, Linux or Windows, it all works the same once you are in your browser.
Google have known all this for years of course, and have taken steps to position themselves as the main player in the cloud computing game. Google's products to exploit this direction include:
Of course Google also have numerous other products that further help them to maintain an unfair advantage and dominate the world. Google defeated the giant Microsoft, (who WERE the arrogant monopolist kings), some time ago, an achievement many of us applauded, since we hated Microsoft so deeply, but the degree of domination Google has in mind is FAR greater than that planned by Microsoft. Google wish to control every piece of software in the world AND all the storage, and through this, to have access to ALL THE INFORMATION IN THE WORLD!!! The amount of knowledge possessed by Google ALREADY is far and beyond anything previously considered and is not far from the level of omniscience normally ascribed to that mythical deity commonly referred to as God! The amount of power following such knowledge is quite staggering. Currently it is used merely to make money, but in the future who knows? They say that power corrupts after all...
Google's methodology is simple: They GIVE you a quality product for nothing. It might even be the BEST product. You pay nothing! How can you argue with that? I use Google products myself: lots of them! In return for their software, Google has access your information: your likes and dislikes, your habits, your associates, your activities, where you live, where you go, what products you own, etc. Google are able to SELL this information, (although not in its raw state), to people that want it. The price is not cheap and Google are fantastically wealthy as a result.
Yes! Hats off to the brilliant men behind this company who thought it up and made it work. Kudos! But now they must be stopped. It has got beyond the joke. We cannot allow one company such power. Remember Microsoft? Who can imagine the amount of corruption possible with such knowledge and control? Already we are starting to see that Google are not above slimy activities: Remember the harvesting of MAC IDs by the Google Maps car? This is merely the visible piece of the iceberg.
Even if Google were to observe an exemplary moral code, global domination by their products would still be bad. In the past Google's products were amazingly bug free, efficient and intuitive, however, I have noticed in recent months a growing degradation in all aspects of their output. There are silly elements creeping into their user interfaces and glaring omissions. (For example: where is the "Street View" button in Google Maps? It should be next to the satellite button but it isn't). There are bugs creeping into their applications and some features that simply don't work, a situation unthinkable only a year or 2 ago. (For example: "Chrome Sync" doesn't work properly, despite having been around for some time). Finally there are non-negotiable data constraints being imposed by Google that may NOT be in your best interests. (For example: no hierarchical folders in Gmail). Imagine what would happen if Google's huge databases stopped working!!! Imagine if your business were entirely committed to Google Docs. Just think about that for a minute...
The only way to reduce corruption and arrogance and to manage the risk of software incompetence and wide-scale data failure is to maintain a healthy variety of competitive vendors, each offering something different and to prevent total vertical integration as pursued by the likes of Google.
So what can we do to stop it? Well, to begin with we can encourage governments and legal institutions to use anti-monopoly and anti-competitive powers to limit the scope of some of Google's operations. For the time being at least, governments, (China for example), are still more powerful than the behemoth and they should be encouraged to act while they still can. More importantly (and more immediately) though, there are things that we can do on our own: Essentially we can reduce our use of Google products, which will have the effect of reducing the information, money and power available to Google and give their competitors some fuel and oxygen. This doesn't mean that we should suddenly all switch to the Yahoo-Microsoft axis. What we need is balance and variety. Ideally: 3 or more major players, none of which have complete vertical integration. We the users must act to balance the ship by intelligent choice of which products we use. Since Google are the main player in most internet arenas we need to bring them back to the pack. This is easily done if the majority of users put their mind to it:
Hopefully you are now enlightened and see the danger.
Let's nip this new dictator in the bud before things get right out of hand.
Warren Mars - June 27, 2010