Could you stop using Google products? Completely? Not just Google Search, but Gmail, Calendar, and all the rest of their stable of products and services.
Nithin Coca has done just that, and tells the story on Medium. What is particularly interesting – and concerning – is how difficult this turns out to be. This is a contrast to even Apple and Facebook :
With Apple, you’re either in the iWorld, or out. Same with Amazon, and even Facebook owns only a few platforms and quitting is more of a psychological challenge than actually difficult.
Google, however, is embedded everywhere. No matter what laptop, smartphone, or tablet you have, chances are you have at least one Google app on there. Google is synonymous for search, maps, email, our browser, the operating system on most of our smartphones. It even provides the “services” and analytics that other apps and websites rely on, such as Uber’s use of Google Maps to operate its ride-hailing service.
Google is now a word in many languages, and its global dominance means there are not many well-known, or well-used alternatives to its behemoth suite of tools — especially if you are privacy minded. We all started using Google because it, in many ways, provided better alternatives to existing products. But now, we can’t quit because either Google has become a default, or because its dominance means that alternatives can’t get enough traction.
Coca’s motives for quitting Google relate to Edward Snowden’s revelations re PRISM. No matter what one’s specific motivations might be, it is concerning that one company has embedded itself in our devices, and by extension our lives, to such a degree. Coca’s piece is refreshingly free of hyperbole, even giving Google their due, and outlining just how it got to be so dominant via his own experience:
Here’s the thing. I don’t hate Google. In fact, not too long ago, I was a huge fan of Google. I remember the moment when I first discovered one amazing search engine back in the late 1990’s, when I was still in high school. Google was light years ahead of alternatives such as Yahoo, Altavista, or Ask Jeeves. It really did help users find what they were seeking on a web that was, at that time, a mess of broken websites and terrible indexes.
Google soon moved from just search to providing other services, many of which I embraced. I was an early adopter of Gmail back in 2005, when you could only join via invites. It introduced threaded conversations, archiving, labels, and was without question the best email service I had ever used. When Google introduced its Calendar tool in 2006, it was revolutionary in how easy it was to color code different calendars, search for events, and send shareable invites. And Google Docs, launched in 2007, was similarly amazing. During my first full time job, I pushed my team to do everything as a Google spreadsheet, document, or presentation that could be edited by many of us simultaneously.
Like many, I was a victim of Google creep. Search led to email, to documents, to analytics, photos, and dozens of other services all built on top of and connected to each other. Google turned from a company releasing useful products to one that has ensnared us, and the internet as a whole, into its money-making, data gathering apparatus
The full article outlines Coca’s alternatives to Google Products. Some things – like, paradoxically, quitting Google for search, are quite easy. Others are much more challenging….