What happens when Google finally dominates the web?

I love Google for a range of reasons, chief amongst them being the splendid array of products they offer, most of them for free. It is hard to imagine the web without Google. Can you think of how you would be using the web without that company called Google? I can’t. However, recent developments from the Googleplex has got me thinking about what would happen if Google succeeds in dominating the Internet.

What actually served to excite my apprehension was when Google finally announced what I’d thought they would for a long time: the Google Chrome OS. The big G is a company that has succeeded in being indispensable in the lives of millions of internet users from all walks of life. I don’t remember the last time I used the internet without a Google product or service. And I think so do you.

With the announcement of its own OS, Google is finally gunning to solidify its reign on the internet as the god of that massive network. From the little we know of the yet to be released OS, it is clear that the first thing that users will be greeted with will be Google products and services. Given that most people just go with almost anything default, and assuming that Chrome the OS succeeds, then we are going to have more people hooking up to even more Google products.

There is nothing wrong with this assumption on its own. However, the problem arises when Google later becomes too powerful to be challenged by any other company on the web. That is, what happens to you and I when Google eventually becomes the Microsoft of the internet? Or better still, what happens to our privacy when Google finally reaches there? This is company that knows more about my preferences than I do my own self. This is a company that has more data on more people than possibly any other company out there. I just recently logged into the Google Dashboard service and was astounded about how much data they have on me. What happens when such a company becomes a monopoly?

So far Google has managed to live by their motto of “Do no evil,” but will that remain the same when it finally becomes the America of the web? I just read that Google is not that much happy with the current standard of HTTP and has announced its own SPDY or speedy protocol to make the transfer of data on the web lightening fast. All these, coupled with the recent hyper activity coming from Mountain View, are I believe in preparation for the imminent release of Chrome OS.

So again, and I know you have also asked yourself this question before, what happens when Google finally dominates the web? There are those that will say just say don’t use Google products. But that is easier said than achieved. Are we going to keep enjoying all that we’ve come be to used to from Google and still remain as ‘free people?’ Are we going to enjoy our privacy even when Google becomes the Zeus of the internet? Are we going to keep loving Google when it finally dominates the web? You help me answer those questions because I’m at a loss for answers.

5 Replies to “What happens when Google finally dominates the web?”

  1. There's still too much competition for this too happen. Google is using their incredible capital to spread out wide. The underlying OS is a commodity, so could be assembled in short order based on Open Source, but if the services aren't competitive people will switch to other buzz. As well, Google like any other company depends on the initiative of developers, and if they think Google is "evil" they will hinder growth. The major competitors are Google, Apple (eventually selling super cheap solid state Mac devices and a slick integrated experience), Facebook (critical mass of connected people), Microsoft (predominance), some unexpected entrant, or maybe even that dream of a real "commons" of open standards (HTML 5 with media) and access.

    Worse and perhaps more likely than total domination would be fragmentation. Different people seeing totally different "Internets" based on their provider. A return to the AOL/Compuserve/Minitel days. Adobe would like to see this (in content) with Flash, Facebook (in access) with their apps, Apple with Mobile Me, and so on. But I don't think it's very likely with the world 'competing.' Right now, a competitive factor for companies is their openness, though it's a contentious term, so we don't have much hope of "open source" being a selling point. But look at the flak Apple has taken for rejecting App Store apps. Agility to respond to worldwide commercial and social innovation requires openness, interoperability and the buy-in of developers and community leaders.

  2. Another longstanding example of fragmentation is Microsoft with their new "Web Slices," and their longstanding ActiveX, and in general stubborn browser incompatibilities.

  3. Hello David
    I think I am inclined to believe you when you say developers are not likely to work with an 'evil' company.
    Also I hope like you said, people are able to freely switch should they not like the services of the big G someday. The Windows lesson is very difficult for me to foresee that happening though.

  4. I think Google and its users are relatively aware of this.

    http://www.dataliberation.org/

    The danger is not so much potential lack of choice or lock in but rather potential data abuse. Hopefully we'll see the idea of 'translucent' data stored on general 'cloud' services but only unencrypt-able by specific providers (and the user!) becoming common.

  5. Yea, that would be better. But the user should have the sole right in choosing the party that can decrypt the data. However, I still think there can be a potential lock-in of users on Google services should Chrome OS be a success.

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