Tag Archives: google

Google Is Finally Changing The Mobile Industry

Google Is Finally Changing The Mobile Industry

Google’s Android operating system already enjoys a majority market share among smartphones, but with their Google Project Fi announcement, they are also finally making last changing to the mobile industry.

Android, as an open-source operating system, has been an industry success adopted by a large portion of the telecom industry.  While establishing itself as the rival to Apple’s iOS, Android has also not been as influential in changing the status quo.  Android is fragmented by various mobile carriers, who are able to install their own software and layers that sit on the true Android experience.  Their open system comes at a cost.

Google has long had it’s Nexus line of smartphones, which have the claim of being a true Android experience, making the product line seem to be following what Apple does for every phone they have ever made.

Google has struggled to reign in carriers.  The original Nexus line challenged the carrier-supported purchase model, with users buying a smartphone at full price and taking their phone to the carriers for activation.  In theory, this model held promise if the carriers were willing to stop subsidizing smartphones as a loss leader to make larger profits providing service.  That change never happened, and seems unlikely in the near future.

Google Fi does stand a chance.  Using the Nexus line, Google is offering network compatibility with the 3 platforms of mobility:  CDMA, GSM, and WIFI.  This fourth platform not only uses the previous 3, but it also offer seamless interconnection between them.  As a user, the phone can switch from Sprint’s network, to T-Mobile’s network, to their home WIFI network all during one phone call.  This is powerful technology that the industry will follow.

The other fundamental shift is how users pay and spend for service.  In the current model, users pay for cellular phone service, minutes, texts, and cellular data.  Google Fi has a chance to change the model.  Their service is priced in line with most of the Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).  However, they key value is driven by the fact that the data the user doesn’t use will be credited back.  People who purchase huge family share plans but only use a portion of their data stand to gain serious money back every month, and could be potentially hundreds of dollars every year.

If this plan is successful, the mobile industry will gain a new source of competition, better prices for users, and more flexibility for users in how they use their data.

Compared to wireline service, the mobile industry is still in it’s infancy.  The landscape will change in the years and decades to come, and users finally have a chance to win in the marketplace.

Thoughts on Google Drive

Yesterday, the worst-kept secret in technology came out with Google’s new “Drive” product.

I am not going to review the product per se, there is no shortage of reviews on the internet.  See http://mandatory-tech.com/2012/04/24/google-drive-is-here/ for a friend’s initial take on the product.

To clarify, I will not be using this product at all.

Google’s quest for worldwide domination of data knows no boundaries.  The only safe haven has been your personal data, stored locally under your watch in your home.  So what does Google Drive do?  Well, it gives Google what they ultimately want which is more access to your data.

Think Google won’t be indexing your personal files?  Take a look at their new unified policy:

http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/

“We collect information in two ways…information you give us…information we get from your use of our services.”

While Google has specific product practices for Google Plus, Wallet, and Books, there was no update yesterday to clarify their use of your data on Google Drive.  I find their silence to be deafening.  Their privacy policy still has not been updated since the March 1 roll-out.

This is what I find so incredibly mystifying about Google.  I don’t believe Google is in any way a technology company.  They are an advertising company, first and foremost.

There has also been a lot said about Dropbox, the market leader on the consumer side.  Google’s pricing structure appears to be aimed straight for Dropbox.  While Dropbox’s CEO say he isn’t concerned (See Here), I sure am!  Google has dropped very tough to match pricing on the field.  While Microsoft was able to restructure pricing for SkyDrive, I haven’t seen any changes in the last 24 hours from Dropbox.

While I completely support a market and competitive economy, I feel that Google can afford to drop their pants for storage pricing because they will leverage the data you provide to advertisers.  Google does not have a search or web-ad monopoly, but they command an overwhelming and dominant market share that is not going to change dramatically very soon.  To me, this smacks of a company using their dominance in one industry to take over another.  Remember that company that had lots of court time with the DOJ and EU (hmmm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft and hmmm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case)?  I hope DOJ and EU are taking a close look at Google’s online storage intentions.

I have never seen a Google product I found to be intuitive or easy to use.  The people I know who are big Android supporters talk constantly about “rooting” their phone…it sounds so much like a Linux desktop support group.  My experience with Google products is that they are difficult to use, clunky, and awkward to navigate.  Because Google Drive appears to just be window-dressing for Google Docs, I will relate to that experience.  Yes, you can play around with a Word Doc or Excel spreadsheet, and yes, two people can access at once, but I find it to be an awful tool to use full-time.  I appreciate the changing paradigm, from desktop-centric software to app or cloud applications, but I still don’t think the chicken’s been cooked to 160 degrees yet.

Is Dropbox perfect?  Heavens no.  I wish the sync speed for multiple files was faster, and up until this week I could only share an entire folder with another person, not a single file (disclosure:  I have not used the new ‘Get URL’ featured rolled out on the 23rd, will soon).  I also wish, again because personal data is so important, that there were more sophisticated encryption options (Spideroak is the new player on the street and they are touting privacy as their most important feature).  Dropbox’s own privacy policy is extremely vague regarding the information they share with 3rd parties (see https://www.dropbox.com/privacy).  Not to mention that their data retention policy is also worrisome.  I may very well move my data to Spideroak as a result.

So what is the difference?  Well, the difference of course is Google’s track record of being completely evil when it comes to the privacy of their users.  From Google Buzz, Street View, Logging Wifi data without disclosure, the examples of Google hostility to privacy is well-documented (See here for more examples:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_privacy).

And let’s face it, I want to see the little guys make it in the technology field.  Microsoft proved why a homogenous technology field is bad for consumers.  Yet here we are, not too far in the future and while the market is becoming more and more heterogenous every day, it still seems like Google, Amazon, and Apple are swallowing the entire market.

Competition is great.  Having more than a couple competitors is even better.

Let’s all hope the Dropbox’s of the world don’t become the next Netscape.