Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm not calling anyone "evil," but . . .

Since Google has apologized and reconfigured Buzz, should I perhaps accept their apology and return to my use of their products? I don't think so, for reasons explained by Kontra:

Unsure of its ability to successfully roll it out as an independent product, Google must have then decided to force feed Buzz through its Gmail user base of 175 million. Google executives likely reckoned that in a single day Buzz would garner more users than Twitter has been able to in two years after all that celebrity publicity. That really is why Gmail users woke up one day to find their private account details exposed to the public, unannounced and unprepared, because without such default exposure Google executives likely didn’t believe they could deliver a critical user base for Buzz. That’s not “improper testing,” it’s a platform strategy. And the fact that Google reacted quickly to public pressure doesn’t negate the fact that its arrogance was thoroughly exposed. The correction isn’t significant, the exposed intentions are.

And those intentions are clearly to become dominant in the world of social networking. But I am interested in participating in social networking only in limited and targeted ways, and consciously avoid most soc-net sites. So Google’s intentions run counter to my intentions. Thus we shall (largely if not completely) part company.

It turns out that Fastmail is a fabulous email provider, by the way, and when I’m using my iPhone it’s a relief not to have to deal with Google’s bizarre implementation of IMAP. I think I like this new Google-free (or limited-Google) world.

6 comments:

  • I don't suppose there's any way to forward all one's archived email to Fastmail. I've so much stuff in google that I'm loathe to leave but for the same reason seem to need to leave it.

  • I didn't forward my Gmail, but I used Apple Mail to copy it over. Slow but painless.

  • I agree that fastmail.fm is fantastic. I've been a subscriber for years. It doesn't offer nearly as much storage as gmail, but its features (aliases, multiple identities, sophisticated filtering rules, etc.) more than make up for the reduced space.

  • Michael Straight said...

    I think Kontra is exactly right in that article and the one about the Buzz launch. Google is trying to leverage Gmail to launch new projects in the same clumsy, hamfisted way that Microsoft used to use Windows to enter (and dominate) new markets.

  • Michael Straight said...

    On reflection, I think the real evil here is not so much the privacy missteps, but simply the fact that Google is trying to dominate a market and take away customers from Facebook, et. al, not by offering a significantly better service, but by leveraging their Gmail userbase. Offering a better service hurts Facebook and their users, but it does so by providing something users decide is worth the disruption of switching and (arguably) makes the world better. Stealing customers by leveraging market share in another domain hurts others and benefits no one but Google.

  • I agree, Michael, and I also agree with Kontra's view that this wasn't a misstep on Google's part resulting from insufficient testing and planning, but rather a conscious decision to use their Gmail userbase to bootstrap themselves into competition with Facebook. Asking people to opt in would have been slow and ineffective; by forcing people in, Google got a huge number of Buzz users while alienating comparatively few. The cost-benefit ratio was probably in their favor.

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