How Much Google is Too Much?

by Matt Klassen on April 28, 2014

As Google continues to tighten its SkyNet-like grip on our technological existence there has always been one chink in the company’s multi-faceted umbrella of products and services, Google+. Despite being generally well-designed the company’s social network experiment never really took hold like Google wanted, always playing second fiddle to Facebook and often serving as simply one more annoying, undesirable hoop users had to jump through to access the Google services they really wanted.

But perhaps the lacklustre reception of Google+ is an indicator that people are tired of seeing Google branding around every corner, tired of having to return to the Google well time and time again to use the services people can’t seem to live without, tired of feeling like Google has far too much control over people’s lives.

Amidst this growing realization Google has announced the sudden departure of Google+ guru Vic Gundotra, a departure that seems more forced than voluntary and has raised speculation that Google may be scaling back its social network project to something less intrusive and, perhaps, something a little more useful.

Google and I have long existed in tension, my desire to utilize the company’s undeniably useful services juxtaposed with my desire to keep the company at arms length, limiting its control over my technological existence. As CNET’s Chris Matyszczyk writes, Google often acts like an overzealous lover, “It will looks after us, feeds us, and tells us what we need. As long as we just make nice.”

As I mentioned, the lacklustre reception of Google’s social network was perhaps a sign that the search engine had finally gone too far, having finally shown the company’s hand, not as a doting lover but as a creepy stalker wanting to subtly control everything we think, do, and say. Sure such overzealous lovers “bombard their lovers with flowers, gifts, texts, jewellery, clothes and, of course, cars,” but there comes a time, even for dupes like us, when we finally say, enough is enough.

But if we saw some potential in the departure of Gundotra and the rumoured downsizing of Google+ that perhaps Google has seen the error of its ways, I wouldn’t be so sure. It was no secret that tension had existed between Google and Gundotra for some time now, the latter letting his displeasure be known regarding the forced integration of Google+ into Gmail and YouTube and other products.

That to me is a strong indicator that Gundotra, despite his devotion to his social network creation, didn’t want it to become a burden to users and did, in fact, resist Google’s push towards total integration of its products and services. His departure would therefore be a sign that Google has learned nothing about being an overbearing presence in our lives, as the company continues to slap its Google branding on anything and everything. Now perhaps Google+ has lost favour with the company’s top brass, but don’t think its replacement will be anything less intrusive.

In fact, Google’s persistent desire to brand everything, as if the Google name was the best thing since sliced bread, is likely the company’s biggest mistake. Note how a company like Facebook, with its purchases of Instagram or WhatsApp, saw no need to slap its logo all over those services. It just left them be and now continues to watch the money roll in.

So perhaps that’s what we need more of from Google…less of Google, and perhaps that’s what former Google+ boss Vic Gundotra needed as well.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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