in post

Interesting developments at Google

  • - More Google services combining into Google+ (YouTube and Reader's social features)
  • - Google+ coming to Google Apps
  • - A promise to permit pseudonyms
  • - A leaked preview of a new more social-ized interface for Gmail
  • + Word from Gwibber (and therefore may more such services) plan in their next version to support Google+

There are more changes I think, but these were the ones that I found interesting to me as end-user. Obviously Google have managed to see where they want to go and put all their efforts and considerable money behind it. I think that this kind of vision-directed, unified strategy may succeed in winning over users. They are, more than Facebook, the new Microsoft, in that they can offer best all-round solutions. So far, they have proven less arrogant and more generous than Microsoft, but this may be a trait of our times, where even the biggest companies appreciate that it is easy to dethrone them. Their efforts to create a unified Google cyberspace is clearly intended to create user lock-in. But so far their lock-in has been simply by providing some of the best services out there. Gmail is the best email program; Google's search engine is the best, Reader the best RSS aggregator, and there are a few other services in which they arguably provide the best solution.

As an end-user who is interested in breaking the monopoly of big companies, and finding non-commercial, non-proprietary substitutes, I wonder whether Google will manage to provide services that I feel I can't live without, and at the same time manage not to be "too evil" in the way they offer them? There were years when I felt that there was no reasonable substitute for Microsoft, and I used their software while feeling bad about it. I've never felt quite as bad about Google, but I'm still aware of their enormity and power. Their potential for misusing these is already significant.

In ancient times, one of the worst possible punishments that could be meted out was excommunication from one's church or banishment from the city. Sometime in the future, a parallel punishment could be banning from Google of Facebook.