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Google's reputation is becoming the biggest problem

Post by

Bogdan Petrovan

Google Plus is gone forever, but if it's still around, I can dig up a post I posted on May 1

5, 2013 reading something along the lines of "I love Google!"

Early in my tech blog career, and I'm certainly less jaded than I am now. I just watched the opening keynote of Google I / O 2013, and, boy, is it exciting .

The announcements from the keynote were pretty cool (remember the Galaxy S4 Google Edition?), But the real reason I felt I had to tell the world about my love for Google was that surprise at Larry Page's Q&A session at the end. In his soft trembling voice, Google's founders raised questions from the audience and talked about his vision for the future of technology.

"We as Google, and as an industry we all [developers] are really only at a percentage of what is possible. And maybe even less than. And despite the rapid changes we have in the industry , we're still slow, related to the opportunities we have, "Page said at one point. After that, I was sold. I took Kool-Aid.

So why not take it now? it's because I don't like Google anymore. I still think it's a fantastic company and force in general. But events from this week remind me that I'm no longer the Google fan I used to be More importantly, seeing the reaction to these events, I was affected by how Google's reputation in the public was full of suspicion and corruption.

It had a lot to do with what Larry Page said in 2013. Perhaps it still feels also Google i to is moving too slowly relative to the opportunities it has. That may be true. The problem is that the world thinks Google is moving fast.

Understanding: Google Collects Excessive Data

On Tuesday, WSJ released a report on Project Nightingale, a deal between Google and Climbing, one of the largest providers of healthcare in the US, which has certainly given Google access to the medical records of 50 million Americans. than you think), but the damage has already been done.

Throughout the media, Project Nightingale has been painted as another stunning data grab from the poster boy of data grabs, only at this time it has deep personal medical records. [19659002] It is not significant that Google is explicitly talking about its work in healthcare, stemming from major G Suite deployments for AI-assisted research hospitals in diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's. Or if Google itself had previously announced the Ascension deal in a call to earnings in July. Or access to medical data is heavily regulated, and data sharing is common in healthcare.

The story launches hundreds of scary headlines, and probably tens of thousands of negative reader comments, not to mention a federal investigation and thorough scrutiny from multiple lawmakers.

Make no mistake: the investigation is not the problem. Google should be completely transparent about the data it collects. The problem, for Google, is that people see it as a shady data seller, a purveyor of spyware. Part of this reputation is expected, part of it is not.

Understanding: Google is everywhere

Another Google project that made news this week was Cache, a plan for Google to begin offering accounts in partnership with banks and credit unions. This does not sound like hoovering medical data, although for many people, financial records are as private and as important as medical ones.

Google isn't the first tech company to move into finance – Apple, for example, has Apple Pay and Apple Card, while Facebook has a new in-app payment system, as well as Libra cryptocurrency. But, for the general public, this latest move raises the question: Why? Why does Google need to do banking now? ] – Dieter Bohn (@backlon) November 13, 2019

For its part, Google says it wants to reach a young audience that is constantly doing everything online, and that it can use its size to create value in a segment that lacks change. The company also provides assurance that it will not share the financial data it collects with advertising partners.

But it does not answer the question from a consumer perspective. Why does Google want to run my bank account?

Google is already involved in many aspects of our lives. With each new industry it enters, the company is increasingly seen as powerful and incompetent. Some consumers have nothing to do with it, especially if they get amazing products and services in return. But others are removed by this endless horror feature, and the pushback only intensifies.

Perception: Google is volatile and unreliable

The number of jokes about Google dead projects is almost as high as the number of gravestones in the Google Cemetery.

This is seen as a positive trait – by constantly trying new things, and killing projects that don't show promise, Google is making sure they keep evolving. That is not easy hope for a company worth close to a trillion dollars employing 100,000 people. Google's love for new projects has given us products like Gmail, Chrome, and Android, which have nothing to do with Google's original business model of selling ads in search results.

On the other hand, uncertainty makes it difficult to buy new Google products, whether you are a consumer or a developer in the Google ecosystem. Especially seeing how Google often treats its early adopters as beta testers.

Google's new streaming service Stadia beautifully describes why its reputation is suffering.

Stadia started with a lot of hype and big promises, supported by Google's cloud computing expertise and the deserved reputation of technical brightness. However, ahead of its launch next week, Google's Stadia looks oversold, which lacks many of its promised features on day one.

  google stadia app logo

As my colleague C Scott Brown put it, "you don't need any of those features to enjoy playing Google Stadia, and they will all come down to the pipeline, but clearly the service is not fully ready for release right now. Google is pushing it too and I don't feel the need to be one of the first people to try the half-roasted product. "

Google is essentially charging people to be beta-testers here. Sure, some lovers are happy to make an offer, but this is not exactly a fair deal for the average customer.

For game developers, the stakes are higher. Google is asking them to gamble their lives on Stadia, and the reputation for killing the project is of great concern.

"The biggest complaint of most Stadia manufacturers is the fear that Google will just cancel," Gwen Frey, who will be developing the Stadia launch game that Kine said recently.

Google essentially charges people to be beta-testers here.

To be fair, many developers were willing to take that opportunity, and Frey himself was one of them. "The biggest concern with Stadia is that it can't exist. And if you think about it that way, that's kind of silly. Working in tech, you have to be willing to make bold moves and try things. that could fail, ”he said.

Not all developers can bet their business on a platform that can be closed without the concern of a year or two. As not all consumers can spend one hundred bucks to buy a service that may or may not work as promised six months from now.

It's not just paid services – it makes Google spotty records even harder with its free apps and services. Get social: Google has launched dozens of messaging and social apps over the years, some of which are still around. Not all of them are frustrated by a lack of commitment – the benefit of Google Plus has been getting a serious push for a while. But many are half-cooked and demanded. Understandably, anyone who gives Hangouts, or Google Plus, or Allo a chance, will think twice before doing so again in the future.

  Google Assistant logo.

Don't be bad, but don't look bad

"Don't Be Bad," Google's popular unofficial motto, has been part of the Code of conduct of 2000 from 2018, quietly that Google deleted it. . It may no longer be put in stone, but I still believe that people at Google guide themselves based on this saying. To give just one example, the importance of the Android ecosystem, and the ability to bring a billion people online for the first time, cannot be overstated. Of course, most of Google's contributions are self-service to a certain extent, but that doesn't diminish their significance. And Google's most important work can come first. Technologies like machine learning and quantum computing can change everything . Google isn't bad, but for more and more people, Google seems bad.

The way Google realizes sometimes is unfair. People often shout "Google steals your data!" Without trying to understand what's going on.

Google is also to blame for the broader problems with Big Tech in general. Like Facebook, it is often perceived as too greedy for data. Like Amazon, it's too big and too often. Like Apple, it is increasingly seen as too rich and disconnected.

The challenge for Google today is to fix this reputation.

But Google can only blame itself for relying too much on user data; the eternal betas; the scattershot approach to messaging (and everything else); the internal culture that favors the release of new products; the seemingly unrelenting decisions that are about to be reversed; or the heavy hand takes on the social.

The challenge for Google today is to fix this reputation. This may be a manageable task by now, but the problem with reputation is that they put you ahead of you wherever you go. In the light of all the positive contributions it has made, and still can make, Google has to think long and hard about how many of its projects reflect and how the public views them.

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