Well, it’s final. I’m Googling my life, as well as my iPhone, and I’m not looking back. It’s taken me a while to get to this point. Changing my e-mail and mobile number are seemingly monumental tasks. Just think of all the account settings I’ll have to change, all the friends and associates I’ll need to contact with my new number and e-mail. I’m going Taoist on this one. Go with the flow. If I miss a personal call or two, it certainly won’t be the end of the world.
In the past, I’ve struggled to understand what Google was up to with many of its initially half-baked offerings such as Google Voice, Wave and Buzz. What redeems these offerings, at least in my mind, is that all of these products have some ingenuity behind them, some imagination and possibility. I struggled to really integrate them, but then that wasn’t all Google’s fault.
The two biggest reasons that I didn’t use these services when they first came out was in large part due to the fact that they really were flawed. However, it was also because I didn’t use the Gmail account I’d set up (Yahoo! has been my personal account for years), and Apple’s highly publicized rejection of Google Voice made that service a non-option. Still, I was intrigued.
I think I officially turned the corner when Google rolled out Google Voice in an HTML5 version that runs on the iPhone. I spent a few weeks investigating the service as a potential user of all of GV’s features and not as a hands-strapped iPhone user. Those couple weeks have made me a believer. While the voicemail transcription still leaves a lot to be desired, the full product offers a lot more options than Apple’s native voice calling applications.
The possibilities inherent in a Gmail account combined with Google’s suite of online and mobile services are hard to deny. Google offers the most convincing means to centralizing and accessing all of my online and mobile data, and it does so with what I believe is an eye toward a more open, less fragmented, vision for mobile technology in the future.
In my opinion, Apple is pretty darn close to jumping the shark on a number of issues. For instance, the idea that proprietary USB and SD card adaptors ($$$) on the iPad were necessary is not only environmentally unfriendly, it’s also tasteless and unimaginative profiteering on Apple’s part. Lack of multi-tasking and Flash support on the iPhone are unforgivable and the result of a company that is drunk on the idea of technological hegemony. The App Store’s vetting process is arcane and most definitely not in the best interest of its loyal customers.
Android is yet another reason for my migration to Google’s services. I think that Google’s mobile platform, in conjunction with some of the proven OEMs on board, will eventually mean an army of devices that dwarf what Apple will do with the iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone. It’s still one of the best pieces of any kind of hardware on the market, but I’m skeptical that Apple is prepared to embrace a future that depends more on conglomeration than isolation.
I’m not sure I’ll use Google Buzz or Wave. In fact, I doubt they’ll see widespread adoption. But then I’m not making this decision because Google has some queer penchant for offering a social networking service. I’m doing it because Google has demonstrated and stuck to its philosophy of openness and that is key to innovation going forward.
Does Google’s size and vast stores of personal information scare me? Slightly. Do I find Eric Schmidt’s I-know-more-than-you-do smile a little bit creepy? Yes. However, I’m a user of technology—presumably will be for some time to come—and right about now, I’d rather have my personal information in Google’s open hands than Apple’s closed fists.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go investigate the announcement Google just made that it will deliver a high-speed broadband testbed.