Has Google Jumped the Shark?

Google has some pretty typical tech giant roots.  What began as a fledgling start-up, has grown into a behemoth tech company.  Or, it was a tech company.  Not so very long ago, Google was a search engine that was hell-bent on creating better search, and increasing the user experience of it’s search engine.  Slowly (or not so slowly, depending on who you ask.), the user experience of search, and the quality of their search have taken a back burner to the more profitable parts of the company.

James Whittaker has a really good post on why he quit Google, and the loss of direction by the company.  Directly, he mentions the transformation of the company.

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Google, even from the inside, is no longer a tech company with a great product, but an advertising company.  The once shining star product of that company, a search engine, has become beleaguered with a proliferation of the new product, advertising.  For any search that you perform on the site, the first several results are sponsored results.  Once, those sponsored results stood out from the rest of the results and were easy to bypass and move on to the “real” results.  Now, those sponsored results stand out far less, and with the integration of Google+, it’s unclear what is and what isn’t a real, relevant result.

Add on top of all that Google’s new privacy policy, and you have a company that is dedicated more to advertising than anything else that has an incredible amount of your usage data.  That same policy basically says they can use your usage data however they so please across most of their services.  Ironically enough, Google Wallet won’t be sharing in the new privacy policy.  Why?  Because the privacy regulations for services that perform monetary transactions like Wallet does require more stringent policy policies.  My question?  How much do you value your internet usage statistics?  What do they say about you?  And, shouldn’t your usage (along with purchasing/shopping habits) be just as valuable as your monetary data?  In an era where identity theft is at an all-time high, and personal privacy is being infringed upon at every turn, shouldn’t you do what you can to protect whatever personal data you can?

Ask.com anti-Google campaign on the London tube © by Lars Plougmann

Has Google jumped the shark?  I don’t think you’ll find it any secret that I think they have.  They’ve always been borderline with me, but there comes a time when enough is enough. While I doubt that I’ll stop using all of their services, I think it’s time to start finding some alternatives to their products.  Unfortunately, in a world where the verb “Google” is synonymous with searching for something on the internet, I don’t think that we can completely write their search off, but we can certainly start supporting their competitors (chiefly, Bing and Yahoo), until such a time that the situation changes. I’m walking with my wallet, and my data somewhere else.

What about you?  Are you O.K. with Google collecting data and using it to maximize their advertising revenue?  How much of the data that Google has on you would you be O.K. with potentially becoming public should your account get hacked?

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