Is Google losing its edge?
Google made a claim at the very beginning that it would avoid being evil. However, it should have also proclaimed that it would not do stupid things as well. During the last few months, Google’s policies have waivered from one extreme to the other.
I own a reliable and cheap Google Chromebook, which is very useful for all manner of ‘field work’ in academia. It is light, relatively rugged and portable, thus making it my go-to- tool whenever I need computing resources on the road. Given the particularities of the Chrome OS, specifically that everything occurs through the browser, I have a series of add-on tools specifically suited to the platform—and which I only use on it.
A few weeks ago, for the strangest of reasons, ALL of the apps which I use on my Chromebook suddenly started being downloaded onto my principal computer, an Apple computer. This bothered me greatly, as it not only swamped my internet with unnecessary traffic, but tried to fill my computer with redundant programs which I do not use on my regular desktop. While I do use some Google Apps, given their cross-platform nature and security focused code, they are very few apps.
Google was basically trying to turn my Apple computer into a variant of its Google Chromebook, and I cannot tell you how utterly annoying it was. It did so without requesting any permission from the user, violating an implicit ‘code of trust’ between the user and the company; it is something Microsoft would do in a heartbeat, and all the more shocking that Google would even attempt to do so as well.
However, now, Google has done a complete 180 degree turn, and decided to forego ALL GOOGLE APPS on non-Google operating systems and computing devices. From one extreme—a “Saragon like” take over of your machine, to another extreme—a “Lady Godiva ” I’m not going to play with you any more.”
These are the actions of a repentant teenager rather than that of a mature businessman.
Come on, Google, or perhaps I should say Larry Page. Don’t do this. You gain ‘street cred’ given your open platforms that cross multiple operating systems. If there was ever the expectation that you would be able to take over other machines, it was an unrealistic expectation from the beginning. Your apps add value simply by providing crucial services that COMPLEMENT the existing operating system and its available apps. While they are not substitutive, this does not mean that they are nonetheless no less important in the added functionality that they provide to existing systems.
Ok, Google. You made a mistake. Just accept it and move on. Don’t have a temper tantrum and turn the world upside down just because you feel guilty and were caught with your hands in the cookie jar. To remind you, you are one of the most important international computing companies at the moment. You are a good example of Arnold Toynbee’s notion of ‘mimesis’: leaders who have moral authority and hence are imitated by all others, including Apple itself.
Just try not to make stupid mistakes as the one you just committed. And, for heaven’s sake, get on with it and ‘move on’.