Even if you don’t own Google stock, you still benefit when Google’s stock price keeps climbing upwards:
- Ad-free services: If it were any other company, services like Orkut and Analytics, among many others, would be chock-full of advertisements. Google could be making more direct money from services like Blogger, but at this moment, that does not seem a priority and it may stay that way for sometime.
- Lower premium penalties: Compare the standard and premium versions of Google Apps. Unless you are an organization, you are not missing all that much. Compare that with many important features, like forwarding and POP access, that are missing in the free Yahoo! Mail version.
- Better applications: Google can continue to hire the best employees and buy out the best applications in the world. Many of Google’s acquisitions are among the best in their market. And Google continues to be innovative in different areas.
- Better products from competitors: Google continues to put pressure on competitors to keep improving their offerings. Yahoo! has dramatically improved their email product. Microsoft Live is a much better application than it used to be, and Live Images and Maps compare favorably with the corresponding Google services.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. If Google continues to grow and establish their complete supremacy over web applications, then you and I will be managing our entire online life through Google. Google could also move strongly into other areas such as hardware, communications, entertainment, etc., thus becoming a much bigger part of our offline lives.
That would be a different monopoly than Microsoft, which only owned the “functionality” piece. Google owns the “data” as well. The debate over how this data should be used and how well protected it is will continue to grow larger. This may not seem a huge issue for you now, but consider the information you are providing to Google products when you access them:
- Your private and public conversations with other people: Gmail, Groups, Talk, Blogger, Orkut.
- Who you know: Orkut, Picasa (photo sharing), YouTube.
- How you spend your money: Checkout, Finance, Products, Web History.
- How you like to be entertained: Web History, Reader, Analytics.
- What political/religious/cultural views you subscribe to: Web History, Reader.
- Which places you visit – Maps, Weather, Web History.
- What you do every day – Calendar.
- What ideas you have – Gmail, Documents, Notebook, Blogger (including private blogs), Page Creator.
- What you read – Reader, News, Books, Web History, Bookmarks.
Should I go on? The question is: how much of this information would you like other people to know? And this is not just about Google. Any company, including Yahoo! and Microsoft today, that has web applications collecting vast amounts of user data as part of its operations is in the same situation.