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Google as

By Joe Wilcox  |  Posted 11-06-2007 Print

Hopefully, I can rightly preserve the context of a April 2006 blog post by Jess Ross, a designer and open-source developer based in Minneapolis (that's MPLS to locals). He wrote:

"I have this theory that Google is going to become a deity. We turn to Google to give answers to our problems, and Google provides. Google is ever present, an unseen force that knows more about us than we know ourselves. Google can see deep into our psyches and hidden desires, seeing the searches we share with no one else." But a deity presumably wouldn't profit from personal prayers information, the way Google does. The business model is rife with conflict of interest. Google mines data from customers it serves and then profits from it. The goldmine with the most valuable nuggets is the mobile phone. It's a captive, personal device for which customers can be clearly identified and their habits more easily cataloged than PCs. The mobile phone is an advertiser's dream machine, for the company that provides the demographic data.

Does Google know more about you than you know yourself? I don't recall my searches from last week, so not even last month. But Google knows and reminds me how long ago I went where whenever there is a new search. That's just the little information the all-mighty Google reveals to me. I'll ask: Do you really want to know what Google knows about you?

Microsoft is no candidate for sainthood, not that all-mighty Google would grant such designation. But Microsoft is repentant, or at least cowed. Whacked aside the head by stagnant share price and U.S. Justice Department and European Commission two-by-fours, Microsoft has changed. Call it brain damage or perhaps the simple desire not to get whacked in the head anymore. Microsoft is more focused on customers now than ever in its history.

Steve Ballmer deserves some credit for the change. In nearly eight years as Microsoft's chief executive, Ballmer has shifted the priority to customer satisfaction. For a company with a huge install base to which the same products are sold over and over, the customer is the right priority. Microsoft is more people-focused than ever.

Microsoft's slogans are all about people: "Your Potential. Our Passion"; "People Ready"; "Open Up Your Digital Life." Google's slogan is, well, what? There's not much people branding beyond the name's use as a verb.

Right, but there is Android. And, what are you to Google?


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