We collect information to provide better services to all of our users – from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful or the people who matter most to you online.
Google collects that information in a number of ways, including by storing cookies on its users’ computers and by saving data associated with users on its own servers. If you sign up for a Google service, you also often provide them with your name, location and your telephone number. Over the last few years, Google has narrowed the gaps between its services, and today if you sign up for a Google account, it can automatically be associated with accounts all across Google’s product line once you’ve signed up for them. Ideally, this strategy will make a user’s experience of Google’s services more streamlined and intuitive.
There is no single source anywhere that aggregates the whole world’s opinion into a single spreadsheet, so no one can say definitively what percentage of people objects to Google’s new policy. But it’s easier to find examples on message boards and news sites of people who are, to put it mildly, suspicious of Google’s new policy than it is to find people who are enthusiastic about it. Here’s a small sample of the comments from a New York Times article about the policy change:
“This is the final straw in my increasing discontentment with Google.”
“I don’t trust Google.”
“I’m glad I use and have been using BING.COM.”
Bing is capable of delivering search results in a way that is very similar to Google, which makes it a viable alternative to Google search. As for Google’s Gmail, Docs, Youtube and other kinds of services, Bing offers comparable alternatives, which makes the two companies pretty similar in terms of what their services do for users and how those services are offered. The difference, at this point at least, is branding, and Bing has an opportunity to seize at Google’s expense. Perhaps if Bing decided to change its policy to minimize the extent to which it gathers and disseminates personal information, that could be the distinguishing factor between the two companies.
Bing is at a crossroads as Google runs damage control for its new policy. If Bing takes the right path, it could turn this event into a New Coke moment for Google from which it might not recover. If it does nothing, a lot of nothing is probably what will happen.