How are you? I’m doing fine (but then again you probably knew that already from all the data you’ve collected on me).
That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, actually.
Google, as you continue to make it easier for us to be tracked all over the Internet (and harder for us to opt out), it seems to be dawning on more and more people (though I would say far from a critical mass by any stretch) that the Google we all know and love is steadily creeping away from its original mission of simply being the world’s best search engine.
I’m not going to ascribe this to some sort of evil intent as others seem to be all too happy to do. I get (and rather love) capitalism, and understand you need to make money to continue existing. I understand that it costs money to build and run your awesome Internet services (I for one am particularly dependent on Gmail, contacts and calendars—all of which work swimmingly with my Nokia Lumia, thanks for that btw).
Right now the only currency I can use to pay for most Google services is myself—my eyeballs and my data, which are worth a certain monetary amount to you. Let’s eliminate the middle-man (advertisers) and let me give that money directly to you. In exchange for a monthly or annual fee, you will give me the Google services I know and love with no ads, and no tracking tools behind them. You can detect my device’s useragent to ensure an optimal experience, and my location if I choose to share it with you, but everything else about me remains my business and nobody else’s. I get a better service—cleaner, and without the analytics gobbletygook that is now pushing the size of a typical web page up to 1 MB, probably a good deal faster too.
Meanwhile, you get the same money you would have gotten—and possibly more if you charged a premium over what you would have made on ads (I don’t know if you make $100 a year on me now, but I’ve been known to pay that much for .Mac/MobileMe, and those didn’t even work).
Moreover, it’s not as if this were an unprecedented idea; it’s precisely how a growing number of apps work. For the typical Zynga game, there is usually the option of a free, ad-supported version and a paid, ad-free one. Apps give us a choice of pay or ads, why can’t Google? I know plenty (if not the majority) of your users don’t want to pay, and are happy to deal with ads to get Google services for free. But you should offer the option satisfy your power users. Think of it as the Android Nexus version of Google writ large.
The longer you don’t do this, the more likely it becomes that a competitor will—be it a nimble young upstart, an old wealthy nemesis, or newer and even wealthier nemeses will (or perhaps an old struggling nemesis looking for a Hail Mary?)
In short: Google, you deserve to be paid for your services. I just wish you’d take alternative forms of payment besides my eyeballs and my personal information.
Oh, and Facebook: Same goes for you.