Apple vs. Google. vs. Privacy

Earlier this year I was published in Entrepreneur Magazine in an article about Google Chrome weighing the pros and cons of Google’s slick new browser, my vote was to stick with Firefox.  This blog will come as a bit of a departure from the normal, but reading the news there is just a lot going on with Google right now that is frightening to me.

Google REALLY wants your information.

In the movie Minority Report Tom Cruise walks down a hallway filled with 3D advertisers able to scan your eyes and cater advertisements specifically to each user.  These advertisers are able to query a database and know what kind of car you drive, where you live, what else you’ve purchased, etc.  This makes for better advertisement success because the content is catered to the user.

It seems that Google is very eager to learn as much as they can about each person, and assign that data to your gmail or Google User account.  Google now owns YouTube, and knows what you’re watching online, Google tracks your search data through Google to know what you’re into, and if you read the fine print of the Google Chrome license agreement you’ll see that you’re agreeing to let Google record all of your online activity so they can send that back to their engineers to further refine their advertisements to you, and map your behavior online.

Maybe this isn’t a big deal, but people are pretty guarded about their privacy.  Google isn’t recording your bank account number, or your social security number, they aren’t capturing your e-mails or selling your information to third parties, but they are using the map of your virtual self to target advertisements your way.

According to a report by Business Insider Apple is receiving more than $100 Million Dollars annually from Google to keep Google the default Search Engine on the iPhone.  The relationship between Apple and Google is starting to deteriorate in no small part because Google wanted the data collected from their Google Maps application on the iPhone 3G to again further target content and advertising to you based on your behavior.

The issue that concerns me, from a search marketing perspective, is that Google seems to want to decide what is right for you, based on your behavior and their algorithm.  This moves us away from an Organic Search format where web sites are ranked based on popularity and are instead ranked on what your internet behavior says about you.

If Microsoft’s history is any indication, I see lawsuits and public fears becoming more and more prevalent as Google’s Chrome operating system hits the market.  How will people feel when they learn that their operating system is spying on them to build the next generation marketing tools?

That dark Minority Report future might not be too far fetched, we may be only a few clicks away.  How much of your information do you want Google to have?  Is it all in the name of a better more targeted experience or does Google seek to turn our personal data into profitable research?