“Google Places” vs “Facebook Places”

19 Aug

Ok, I am going to say it.  Google’s policy of “release the product early (not really ready) and iterate often” is killing them.  You only get one shot many times.  Maybe two or three, but seriously, how can people not loose faith in a company that is big enough and talented enough to do things right, but consistently launches products that are bad when they come out yet, because they are just not there yet.  Tech early-adopters (which is what Google is made up of (the ultimate tech geeks) are forgiving and will try new things over and over.  But the average person, the person that uses Facebook, Word and most non-techie email-users, expect that the product is going to come out and it’s going to be perfect or near perfect.  Apple shoots for this.  Facebook puts out products that are instantly useable to the average person.  The average person understands them.  As a huge Google fan it is frustrating for me to see them put out unfinished products and watch average non-techie people try them and not like them because the products are confusing or not pretty or need an explanation or need me telling people how great the product is because of future implications.  The average person is not interested in future implications and how great this will all be one day be like I am.  They want products that rock right now when they try them the first time.  Google has tried social how many times?  Two? Three? More?  Facebook is killing them now.  They know it.  They need to do something but can’t really.  They’ve tried.  People are tired of companies that keep putting out products that aren’t good (aren’t there yet.)  Facebook puts out features and fixes them too.  I just don’t feel like it should be that hard to recreate a Facebook, but much better because of all the data Google has access too.  It might be late now though.  They should have done this a long time ago.  I have great ideas of what is after Facebook in the world of social.  Google needs some creative minds there and not just the world’s greatest programmers.  Facebook put out “places” yesterday and it will compete against “Google Places.”  If businesses all adopt Facebook’s places in droves and leave Google’s Places behind even though it’s been around much longer it’s going to hurt Google bad.  There is an enormous amount of advertising dollars at stake here.  That’s just the beginning of it.  This will determine where people are spending their time.  Where the money is.  This is a very key determiner of where the Internet is going and who is going to take us there.  This is huge in my mind.  Google should have had this one and I feel like Facebook has a good shot of walking away with it.  Facebook has the users.  Google could have, had they gotten one of their many social attempts right up front.  Google could still take this if they were willing to make their products radically different.  They could do it.  I could tell them how.  But I don’t think they will.  They have become a big company that refuses to do anything very different.  There are so many people there that are locked into this mindset of doing things “The Google Way.”  I think that’s a crock.  The Google way is innovation.  It’s thinking huge and doing whatever it takes.  They have built up a few rules that must be broken.  (“Do No Evil” is not one of them)  The look and design of their sites must change.  The “release early, iterate often” must change.  The ease of use, simplicity and consistency must improve drastically.  I mean drastically.  Everything rides on this Google.  We’re at a crossroads.  There are so many amazing things Google can do right now.  Seriously, there is so much amazing technology left that they can do right now. . . .  really great ideas that would blow Facebook and everyone else right out of the water.  Let’s get started Google.  Let’s put out some amazing products the first time.  We can do it.

Can’t get enough of Facebook’s unethical privacy problems.

14 May

Facebook is appearing to be an unethical company that cares most about money and not users privacy.  It is tempting to say that all companies care most about money, but I don’t believe this to be completely true.  It’s not a one or the other issue either.  There is a sliding scale between ethical treatment of people (in this case people’s privacy) and making money and a company can be anywhere on this scale.

Some say, “Everyone knows no information once on the Internet is ever really private and you can’t expect privacy on the Internet no matter how much companies make it seem like you will have privacy.”  I believe there can be a way a company can devise products for information privacy to be respected on the Internet.  I also believe that even in these fast moving technology times that ethics can also be upheld.  Yes, a company might be able to make more money in the short run by being unethical and selling our data or doing any number of other unethical things to make a quick dollar.  Since so many companies are truly about only making money first, foremost, and forever, they will go that route.  Business can be done another way though, with respect to privacy and ethics in general.  The thing is, most people are even willing to give up some data.  Many people understand the business model of receiving free products for viewing ads or giving up certain basic information to be better targeted for ads.  There will always be companies that keep pushing it though untill it gets to the point where average users feels it and it hurts.  Companies should not in my opinion, take it so close to this line that we as users feel violated or disrespected or feel that the company is acting in an unethical way.

There is a huge opening for a company to take this niche of social networking lead now.  It won’t happen overnight, but if done right it could happen fast.  How could companies pass this up?  The chance to be the next Facebook.  Yes, Facebook could just fix their privacy issues.  In practice it wouldn’t be that hard for them, though it would have to be a huge change.  Not just a light reworking of the privacy settings like they did a number of months back.  They need a ground-up rework, a total rethink on paper of  how this site would allow users to control and own all their own data in a very specific way that was very easy to use and understand.  It’s actually a tricky problem.  Apple is great at taking complex things and simplifying them down to a solution that is so obvious and intuitive that we wonder how no one thought of it, but no one did.  Apple isn’t the right company for this niche most likely since this isn’t Apple’s business really, but I’m just pointing out the type of solution I and many people would probably wish Facebook would go for.

I think Facebook has shown enough times that their company priority is not looking after their users privacy.  They have shown they are looking out for their pocketbook by trying to capitalize on every conceivable way to make money off their business model with no regards for ethics, or as little as they are forced to act with.  I don’t think Facebook can really change because it seems to be ingrained in their corporate mindset, probably coming from the top people that make the decisions on how to run and grow the company.

I hope Google does not get to close to this line.  I have to admit I see them moving closer to using more and more of people’s information in a way that is obvious to end users for making money from advertising.  I feel to date that Google has always respected my privacy, save for a few (hopefully honest) mistakes.  I hope the ads stay as unobtrusive as possible and they value our information and respect us more than their need to squeeze out a few extra dollars.  I realize it is a basic exercise of business to find that exact balance point where they can maximize revenue the absolute most without hurting their bottom line from doing things users don’t want them too.  If I were Google I would not take it to that point or anywhere near it.  I would circle very wide of it and stay far closer to the side of the end-users and maintain their trust.  There is a point where an ethical company must say, we are making so much money anyway, we really don’t need to make a little more to take advantage of our users and risk loosing their trust.  Most businesses unfortunately won’t do this, but the great ones will and I think it will make them richest in the end too.

BBC article on Facebook privacy

Facebook’s eroding privacy, a Google opportunity

14 May facebook-privacy

I feel like we are at the beginning of a turning point for Facebook on the privacy issue.  Sure people complained about Internet privacy being an issue well before Facebook even existed.  Yes, people have had issues with Facebook privacy many times before these most recent Facebook privacy changes.  Something feels different now though.  I feel like the average joe is start

ing to notice.  The average joe is not about to give up Facebook (though occasionally you’ll hear someone talking about it.)  The average joe loves Facebook & won’t give it up yet.  But, that’s not to say they don’t notice their ever eroding privacy on Facebook.
Facebook does not seem to care, really, about people’s privacy.  It feels like they will do anything & everything to expand their business & make money.  I know almost every business does this, but I’m pointing it out in this particular case because I think it matters here.   I think it will matter to their long-term bottom-line.

The average joe is beginning to think about the ethics of social media & their privacy.  People are starting to care that all their life information is being sold & used to make money for Facebook & other companies.

Since the beginning google has strived to be an ethical company.  (I don’t work for google in any way. . . I wish.)  They were oddly almost ahead of their time in that sense.  Ethics & privacy is going to be the new hot concept right?  They got that right straight from the beginning & it will pay off big time in the long run if they can keep it up & stay on the fine line of being on the side of the user over the advertiser.  Yes, their business model depends on advertisements, but more so, it depends on people using google & trusting google so that google has the data to help the advertisers.  I & others are OK with giving google this data because they have always been trustworthy.  I  hope they never get greedy & cross the subtle line of annoying the user just to give advertisers a slightly big or bolder or slightly more intrusive ad.

I think people are starting to look for an alternative to Facebook.  Or at least they are starting to think that something isn’t quite right & when that happens, people start to instinctively explore possible solutions.  One would be for Facebook to change.  We all love the service of Facebook & would hope the service would just change to be what we want, which is a site that respects our privacy fully.  We don’t mind them making some money on some of our basic information.  I’m sure there would be models that could work, but Facebook is currently pushing way to hard to quickly & obviously taking advantage of our data at the expense of our privacy.

Google has always insisted on an ethical approach & has always  taken great pains to insure privacy.  Of course people will point out that it hasn’t always been perfectly smooth right out the gate on many products, but when Google sees problems they always fix them quickly (buzz.)  Facebook never makes moves like that or when they occasionally back-peddle they do so in very small moves & basically because they simply can’t ignore the enormous uproar (though most of the time they do just ignore it.)  Facebook is realizing they are powerful & they can ignore it.  After all, everyone is already on Facebook & their user base is so huge & ingrained into our society at the moment that it’s very difficult to leave since that’s where everyone is.

But it could change.  Many times in technology history there have been companies that seemed to have a particular niche unbreakably locked down & some smaller company has come in & found a better way.  I feel like people are looking for a “better way” to get the service we love about Facebook without the feeling that Facebook is taking advantage of our information.  It’s possible to have both worlds, so if Facebook doesn’t do it, & don’t think they will, some other company will find a way to give us the Facebook type of service with a better privacy policy.  I know there are plenty of people thinking about & working on this now.  Yes, it will be a very hard change since everyone is on Facebook, but it can happen slowly.

I feel like Google is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this rising discontent with Facebook’s disappearing privacy.  Google has the ability to create a Facebook type service.  They also have the ethics to respect & value people’s privacy.  They tried with Buzz (try to ignore the privacy problems they had at the beginning for a moment because they corrected it) but that service is no where near as good as Facebook unfortunately.  It may have more features possibly, it may be more open, but for the average joe it doesn’t look as good as Facebook & it doesn’t “seem” as friendly & easy to use.  I really wish it was.  I would love for it to be really great.  I’ll get more into that in the future.

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