August 07, 2009 |
I have recently received a very interesting comment on one of my post about Google where the reader compared Google to religion as there are definitely many similarities between how we believe in God and how we have learned to believe in Google (in fact, every time I try to type “God”, I invariably end with “Gog” and every time I need to write “Good”, it will also result in “Google” anyway which must be yet another proof of the theory).
In fact, I have always thought that Apple was more about religion in the IT world. Really, Apple’s marketing team has definitely succeeded in transforming its fans into real worshippers and sometimes it looks like voice of reason is nothing to them whenever anyone decides to express any opinion that is other than very positive about their favorite company and its products. But now that I think of it, Google has reached the same results already – even though it may not be that obvious.
Now that the word “google” is used as a verb to describe the process of web search, more and more people around the world are joining the crowd of loyal Google supporters. And following this new religion, people have forgotten everything that existed before Google and seem to be totally blind to everything that goes on around them.
Like, there is probably something of a competition between different world religions but fortunately the times of the most acute religious wars are now over and people belonging to different confessions have learned to co-exist in peace (even though some conflicts still occur, of course). And who cares about competition in the world of the religion named Google? Definitely no one and the vast majority of Google supporters will hardly manage to name 3 or 4 alternative search engines because Google is all they need – and they don’t care if there are better alternatives.
But while it is visible in the world of search, it is even worse when it comes to the rest of the applications that are now available from Google. Honestly, to me it feels that – same as any church does – Google now wants to control every aspect of our lives and launch more and more products only to ensure presence everywhere, no matter how actually needed this presence is.
I know many people who will choose a product by Google from their broad family of web applications only because this product is made by Google – without thinking or even briefly looking at what the competitors have to offer. But a very simple research will invariably return a long list of competing products and some of them will be much better – even though there are no big names behind them. Why so? Simply because for their developers this single application is the only focus while for Google there are too many things they have to cover following the principle of being everywhere. Yet you will hardly be able to explain that to any loyal Google supporter because they all know Google cannot do anything below their own quality standards – and no examples of better competitors will convince them.
Recently I myself have slowly begun to migrate from everything tagged with “Google” because I have learned that a very quick search for competitive applications will return a number of much less familiar names with excellent products behind them. And really, it is not that difficult for me to bookmark yet another page in Firefox and stick to it instead of doing everything with my Google account. Yet I know that for the vast majority of internet users this is hardly an option and they will stick to all things Google without bothering to question this loyalty.
Next Google announced Google Wave and demonstrated it to a very small group of tech bloggers and reporters. It is no wonder that they were all very excited. Of course they could be excited because the product actually looked good and promised something that could really change our lives. But on the other hand, could it be that they were excited from the very beginning because the almighty Google invited them personally to take a look at something cool? Could it be that everyone expects everything that comes from Google to be excellent only because it comes from Google? Honestly, I have not played with Google Wave myself yet but the number of repetitions of the word “revolutionary” in such reviews makes me question the validity of such reviews because you rarely see every blogger in the tech community sharing the same positive opinion about anything that is not from Google.
This loyalty to the almighty Google, this desire to stick to what Google has to offer along with the reluctance to question anything that comes from Google really proves to me that Google’s marketers have really managed to turn Google into some kind of a religion – even though it is probably less obvious than it is with Apple.
But there’s another aspect about this religion that is probably the worst one: anyone who dares to say anything bad about Google will frequently be treated like a real misbeliever and will be condemned by many supporters. For example, we all know how poorly Google treats privacy of its users and many of us are concerned about the amount of information that millions upon millions of users around the world eagerly provide Google with.
But strangely, while everyone who is more or less knowledgeable in the online world realizes all the dangers behind Google and its immense power, whenever someone begins to criticize the giant, there will always be voices denouncing these separatists and supporting Google like it’s the most innocent company in the world that needs support from its every fan in fighting people whose faith is not strong enough.
Whatever it is, this type of behavior looks very much like religious to me and this type of loyalty to a brand does not look healthy to me anymore. Ok, I myself stick to Google for search because it does the job right but I won’t rush to Google for everything else from now on – simply because I think that users should eventually realize that Google is not the only web company and there are many quality alternatives around. And while I do respect Google as a company for the achievements and for the technologies they offer everyone around the world, I think some critical analysis will never hurt, believe in Google or not.