Google has made it clear: The company’s goal is to collect all the world’s data.
If that’s a problem for you, and you’re thinking of giving up on Google, then switching to iPhone to iPhone is the solution. With the iPhone, you can use the best of Google services if you want to, but you can also easily live Google-free. And if you’re not yet sure, the iPhone lets you keep your options open.
Everything has a price. With Apple, you typically pay in money, and they sell you premium products and services in return. That cost is easy to understand. With Google, you typically pay in attention and data and they give you free or cheap products and services in return. That cost is harder to understand. At least I only stared really understanding it after the Google IO keynote:
The optimist in me sees this as Google trying to make the world a better place by giving back. Thanks to the revenue they accrue from showing ads, they can afford to create novel new infrastructures, enable low-cost technologies, and otherwise fund the future.
It’s the Star Trek machine. It’s Memory Alpha. And all these great services are the bits upon which it’s built.
The pessimist in me sees this as Google creating ever-more channels for data acquisition. By getting emerging markets and children onto the company’s services in a way that looks altruistic. Instead of people getting angry when Google advertises to parents in an attempt to get their children’s data, they put their services in schools and parents thank them for taking their children’s data.
It’s a beast of unprecedented, unimaginable size. And all this cool technology is the sedative we’re given to feed it.
If Google really wants to organize the world’s data, then that includes my data. I’m not sure I want Google, or any company, to do that for or to me.
I’m not the only one thinking or re-thinking about the costs of Google services. Marco Arment:
I didn’t set out to aggressively quit Google-everything, but once I changed my browsers’ default search engine to DuckDuckGo, that has mostly happened. The most surprising part was how easy it was for Google to mostly fall out of my life, how quickly it happened, and how little I missed it.
Marco didn’t believe the benefits of Google services outweighed the flaws for him, so he moved to other services. In some cases, free services like DuckDuckGo, in others paid services like FastMail and MailRoute. John Gruber shared similar thoughts on Daring Fireball:
I don’t use Gmail, DuckDuckGo is my default web search, and the only time I’ve used Google Maps instead of Apple Maps in the last year is when I need transit directions in New York — and that might be changing soon.
iMore and all of Mobile Nations works on Google Accounts, so I can’t avoid Google regardless of my personal concerns or feelings. I long ago moved my personal stuff from Google to iCloud, however, and I haven’t had any problems or regrets since.
More importantly, I consider it a huge advantage that I, as an iPhone owner, can choose whether I want to use Google services or not. And no matter what I choose, I get a phenomenally good experience. (I can even choose the best of Microsoft if that’s what I prefer.) I can use as few or as many of Apple, Google, or Microsoft’s services, and I can change that mix any time I want.
Regardless of what you think of the relative value of money compared to data, the ability to choose and change between them is invaluable. And it’s only one of the many great reasons to switch to iPhone.