Google is the all-powerful gateway to the internet

(Andy Wootton) #1

Sorry I’m a bit late to this discussion. Was the conclusion that Google has no viable competitor in search? That it has achieved a monopoly? That Google is the all-powerful gateway to the internet for everyone?!

Does that worry anyone?

I'm trying DuckDuckGo for a week
(Daniel Hollands) #2

I’ve split this out into its own topic as I think it’s a slightly different conversation to the one being had about DuckDuckGo.

I’m not sure that’s the conclusion that I arrived at, more so that for my needs, I found Google better suited.

They have the market share, that’s for sure, but I don’t know if that equates to a monopoly. Entities such as Bing and DuckDuckGo do offer alternatives, which a lot of people use.

Now that Chrome is the most popular browser, this is probably a lot more true today than it has ever been.

It probably should. I trust Google (more so than, say, Facebook), but I cannot deny they probably have a touch too much power.

(Kevin Carmody) #3

@Woo DuckDuckGo is a perfectly viable search alternative with, I suspect, a growing market share. And what better way to show it’s growing interest than with Google Trends? :wink:

(Andy Wootton) #4

Hmm, I worry about people’s trust of Google.

Do you remember when Facebook announced that they were moving their chat to Jabber/XMPP and Google said they would too and they bought Gizmo and some time real soon we’d have open video chatting to replace Skype? Now we have Google Hangouts and Facebook backed away too and XMPP is all but dead.

Or what about when there were a hundred RSS Readers, all the same, but Google made Reader and everyone moved to it and Google Killed it and hoped we’d all use Google+ etc. to consume news?

Or when we had Firefox running on any version of the Linux kernel and now we have Google Chrome and hardware manufacters only write drivers for the Google version of the kenel and people writing apps that depend on Chrome?

You can Do Evil by accident, due to carelessness or on purpose and I’m no longer willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because evil is getting done and it’s working in their favour.

(Andy Henson) #5

I’m with you 100% on this. It’s why I’m slowly trying to remove my dependence on google services, even if sometimes it’s a bit of an inconvenience.

(Daniel Hollands) #6

This is a couple years old, so I’m not sure how up to date it is, but Life Hacker have an article on The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the Web.

(Andy Wootton) #7

For maps, I’d go for Open Street Map (OSM) though I quite like Nokia’s Here for supporting Firefox OS early and being HTML5.

The obvious Free alternative to Google Office is LibreOffice. It isn’t web based but if you keep your files on a web service in an open format, does that matter? I tend not to use word processors, preferring the concept of text processing so I like text inc. XML formats, stored in the cloud

Google+ nicked all it’s worthwhile ideas from Diaspora*, though D* is populated largely by weirdos of various persuasions.

(Nore Gabbidon) #8

Sorry, but I don’t understand what Google killing their RSS reader has to do with them ‘Doing Evil’. They killed their RSS reader because RSS is dying - less and less people are using it, relying on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn amongst other services to consume content. I’d understand if google just ‘killed it’ without any notice, but there was a lot of notice given to users at the time.

This is different to the situation with Microsoft for example, who completely monopolised their office and internet suite and originally it was impossible to use a different service because they frankly didn’t work or weren’t compatible! That isn’t the case with most of Google services. Don’t like Google Docs? Use libreoffice or ms word instead. Don’t like Chrome? Use firefox instead or microsoft or Dolphin instead. Don’t like Google Analytics? Use Piwik instead… Viable alternatives are easy to find and entirely workable.

Google are victims of their own success. I personally don’t rely on google much (apart from email) but when it comes to many of their services (analytics, google app engine, maps etc) they are tough to beat.

(Andy Wootton) #9

Why is RSS dying? Is there no longer any need for an open protocol for news distribution? Or did Google destroy all Reader competitors in a similar way to how Microsoft wiped out their word processors and spreadsheet competitors?

Once Google owned RSS, they could make that competitor to their Wave go away too. When Wave failed, they hurriedly stole the key ideas from Diaspora*, in order to consume the social map into Circles instead. Notice was given but people have a limited appetite for suffering and they’d only just finished getting all their channels over to Reader. I didn’t like Google’s chosen successor (Feedly?)

Or what about when Google suggested browser enhancements and Firefox said “no”, so they made their own browser and went right ahead and made those features and gave enhanced features in their services that depended on them. Does that sound like the history of IE? If you get big enough, you can do whatever you want, unless someone stops you.

I thought I’d have a look what the guy who invented RSS and blogging thought about RSS dying:

I won’t give you my “Free software services are the new Free OS” rant today.

(Kevin Carmody) #10

Anecdotal, but I’ve been having all sorts of problems with Firefox loading pages. It seems to keep getting stuck when it has to load in Google services. You also have a lot of sites now that require Chrome to work. Developers have gotten lazy, they aren’t testing on other platforms and it’s feeling like the “best viewed in IE” days.

This isn’t a Google bash. Hegemony isn’t healthy, but if people don’t use or develop alternatives then there isn’t competition and tech will stagnate. That may have been the problem with RSS. We all moved to one service that decided not to continue innovating. It isn’t Google’s fault for killing it, it’s our fault for not trying anything else when they started.

(Alastair McGowan-Douglas) #11

If your alternative isn’t open, can’t be installed locally, can’t be accessed privately, can’t be disconnected from the internet, isn’t based on standards or generally has a corporate interest looking at it in any respect then it’s an alternative in the same way Bold is an alternative to Persil.

There’s no point looking for an alternative that doesn’t solve the issues that exist with the current choice. If the issues are those of privacy, data security, I-am-not-a-product, etc, then you won’t find an alternative in something bearing a corporate name.

So Hotmail is not a Gmail alternative, and Bing is not a Google alternative (DDG might be, but then you have to live with the sub-par searches). Zoho is not a Calendar alternative because it stores your data offsite. Bing Maps is not a Google alternative because it’s utter shit and is a Microsoft product, which means they’re making money out of it somehow.

Don’t switch just for the sake of it, is my message here. Dropping a Google service just because it’s Google is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

(Nore Gabbidon) #12

There’ll always be a ‘need’ for RSS, much like there’ll always be a need
for IRC. That doesn’t mean the two aren’t waning in popularity. We differ
with how we view the process of being ‘evil’ i think. The reason there was
such high adoption to google reader is because it was the best product. It
didn’t do anything special compared to other rss readers, it just did it

(Andy Wootton) #13

I kind of agree with the first bit except that I’d risk an open standard supported by multiple products or services. I’d prefer Free software with alternative service providers and the option to DIY if they let me down. I’m not entirely sure what ‘local’ means any more.

I try to choose protocols/interfaces rather than products, then find a product that supports them. Google is moving away from standards so for me they are deselecting themselves. I use Gmail because it allows me to choose an SNMP/POP client if I want to. I don’t expect to move to Inbox because I then seem stuck there.

(Andy Wootton) #14

I just logged into @trello to close down my naughty/nice lists, using my Google account. I got the msage,
“Starting April 20, 2015, OpenID 2.0 will Starting April 20, 2015, OpenID 2.0 will no longer work for Google Accounts”

It would be wrong to draw conclusions without more information.

(Daniel Hollands) #15

I saw that message somewhere else as well - probably because they want everyone to use OAuth.

(Andy Wootton) #16

Today my Android slab was logged out of Twitter but trying to log back in via my pre-filled Google account name. This has never happened before.

(Andy Wootton) #17

I think I’ve found a possible explanation for Google’s sudden lack of support for OpenID:

Today, I tried to use Firefox ‘Hello’ (think Hangouts) for the first time. You can email a link to someone and when they click on it you get a pop-up window that they want to connect. It is only a Beta. It lets you store contacts and it has an “Import” option. If you click on it you get an Oauth message. Were Mozilla trying to allow you to copy your own contact information from Google, using OpenID? That would be a massive threat to their ownership of all our social maps by a major competitor on mobiles, browsers and the web desktop - and what else is there? I hope Mozilla ‘play nice’ because it’s so much easier when you have a simple Good vs Evil choice.

If you want to play then choose ‘customize’ from the desktop Firefox ‘menu’ icon on the right and drag Hello onto the menu. It uses WebRTC but all browsers are not yet created equal. Who would want an open, cross-platform video chat solution?

There’s a ‘Subscribe’ button too that seems to allow RSS clients to be added, with links passed via the browser.

(Andy Wootton) #18

On Thursday at the JavaScript Meetup we discussed whether Google’s mission statement still said “Do no evil”. It doesn’t, I just checked.

“Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, which doesn’t really explain this decision:

I have always avoided Google Apps that wouldn’t run on Firefox because I believe in open systems, so hopefully I won’t be affected but Google appear to be growing increasingly anti-competitive. Let’s hope I’m wrong and they are giving up on Chrome-only apps altogether but will continue to support their own customers for a while.

(Kevin Carmody) #19

Thread necromancy :skull:

(Andy Wootton) #20

I was going to start a new one but it seemed best to have all the Google Evil in one place.