Ah, Google, I Do Love You… Just, Not Always

Alright, yesterday I was writing a post that showed my feelings about some of the functionalities of Google products, today I will do the opposite.

And that will be a first, since I have never been a big fan of Google. Oh, I do use Google most of the time, but there always has been some kind of ‘We’re doing this, no matter the costs or effects’ that I did not always appreciate. But that is a personal opinion, and not one I will try to convince you of sharing.

But it just feels like Google is everywhere. Where Apple mentions ‘There is an app for that…’, Google’s slogan seems to be ‘Google has already done that’. And when it is not successful, they dump it. Business-wise, it is a good move. If you don’t make a profit with it, and there are not other income through it, dump it. So, I absolutely understand.

But just, it gives me always the feeling of caution before using a Google tool; will it still work tomorrow?

But then, usually their tools are free, and I will have to admit, for ‘free’ you get a lot of stuff.

Are their tools completely free? Nah, most likely you pay with tons of privacy information. But, I do think in this scenario, seeing the amount of products you get for it, it might or might not be a price worthy to pay. Of course, it depends on what kind of privacy information. As I have shown yesterday, there are some scenarios that they go way too far, and they have to keep their hands out of my personal stuff. But like with things like Google Analytics… is it such a problem that they know the information of my sites, what I present there, how users use it… it is valuable information, but then, owning an analytics program costs a lot of money too. So, in this case, it might be a good trade.

But, there is also another trade-off, for example with Google Analytics. I, personally, for the price (free) it is the best product you can find. I have worked with one of the largest analytics production companies in the world at the time (NedStat) and also have built a couple of analytic tools myself. I can tell you that Google Analytics doesn’t produce accurate numbers. But, once you know how to use the numbers, and use them as performance markers, it is excellent. And, there is not a single analytic tool that is accurate. But we’ve seen sometimes up to a 40% difference between Google’s numbers and for example the IIS numbers.

But, again, once you learn how to use the numbers as performance markers, it is an excellent tool.

But I love Google Voice. I cannot deny it that I was very weary of it, until I tried it out two weeks ago. And when I started playing with it, I discovered more and more. And I love it. Now, I have no doubt that using Google Voice might show a real privacy security threat. I don’t think Google will go that far, but, you will never know. But again, if you use it wisely, you can monitor the functionality pretty nicely and keep the privacy risk contained.

But the functionalities that come with it, and the effectiveness, are pretty amazing. I was absolutely surprised that it comes for free. I have worked with clients that pay hundreds of dollars per month for their phone system that sometimes are a pain to set up, and even worse to work with. Google Voice is simple, functional and fast. And it delivered me a perfect solution for my business set-up.

The only thing that Google just doesn’t get is design. Now, in this scenario, I don’t care so much. Working with a Google tool feels like something that was built, and when it worked they slapped their standard style to it, and went on. And this might make some tools a bit less interesting for people who are very visually oriented. Google’s design is nowhere near, for example, Apple’s. And I don’t think they need to be. Google is not Apple.

The only thing with Google is, I never know if I can trust them. Every tool that I use, is always set up with knowledge that my information might be traded. The only thing that I know is that the same thing goes with any SaaS provider, even if you pay for it.

But, after my mostly negative rant yesterday, I thought I should also mention some appreciation for the company. Not about everything, just, about some things.

I do like the concept of Google+, although they need to polish up that app a little bit. The circles are nice way of categorizing your friends and acquaintances. I like the way they handle photos and albums. And it is the first company that I know of, owning now two social networks. I mean, they bought Orkut years ago, which was the initial social network that became big, before MySpace even.

But again, Google+ still lacks the appeal to use it. And it is not so much the user-base. It just feels like something only geeks will want to use. Google’s approach to tools and apps is always very technical. It is like they build the infamous Russian car LaDa. They work, they don’t break down, they keep going no matter how old they are or how many miles they have driven; but they lack any comfort and look like, well, a can of spam.

With Google tools you have to work for a little bit to appreciate it, and then you notice that they actually build very nice and interesting stuff. And for a price you simply can’t beat.

So, on that note, Google, you have build up enough credit for me to let the instant-upload of photos slide… 😉

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