Newsletter Issue #534: About Control From Apple and Google

February 21st, 2010

Just the other day, author and columnist Kirk McElhearn said he was going to close his Gmail account. Yes, it’s free, so what’s the beef? Well, Kirk is extremely concerned about the way Google tracks everything you’re doing and delivers targeted ads, hoping you’ll click on them and thus boost their revenue.

I suppose that’s not so big a deal, since Google assures us that they are not actually reading your messages or otherwise invading your privacy. Besides, if you buy the premium version of Google Apps, at $50 per user per year, you can opt to ditch the ads in your email. After all, you are giving them guaranteed money in exchange.

Well, evidently the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to Google was their decision to enter the social networking fray with their new Buzz feature. Now there’s nothing wrong with Google wanting to incorporate the best of AIM, Face-book and Twitter in a single package. If they can succeed at this new venture and deliver value to their visitors and advertisers, all well and good.

But the people in charge of Google forgot to consider their users, the people who click on those ads and thus keep their cash registers ringing. You see, rather than give you the chance to opt in and decide for yourselves whether to use Buzz, they turned it on for you automatically, at least at the very beginning.

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