You have to excuse my verbosity in this post. I am stuck on this flight for the next 6 hours, and I do enjoy writing. The good stuff is at the end, sorry.
I just spent nearly two hours on the tarmac of JFK, trying to get my flight started from New York to Oregon (stopover before I buzz the bay area, and then scoot back to Chicago), and I got bored. I needed to save batteries on my two laptops (six hour flight), so I did what everyone does on JetBlue: stare at the little television screen in the seat in front of you.
I recall back from my wee youth a trip to the old country (Europe), and watching the little moving map with the flight. It was up on some big free screen on the 747; ghetto, I bet it wasn’t even “real-time.” So, I headed over to channel 13 (or whatever) and brought up the JetBlue map with of a grin.
There it was, my little plane, stuck on the goddamn tarmac. At least we got free waters. But as I glanced up to the corner of the map, what did I spy? Why a small Google logo, as if that was a surprise.
And then it came to me, Google owns me. Between Wave, Gmail, Search, Calendars, Docs, Reader, News, Trends Adsense, Adwords, and a dozen other services, I am their, well, bitch. The only major Google service that I do not use is Google Analytics (thank you Clicky).
Google is everywhere, and in everything. If Google had decided a few years back to get baked into the whole world, they succeeded. Google has me by the balls, do they have you?
I have been bleating for quite some time, asking Google to let me pay for Gmail, to get on some more stable servers, with some actual customer support. Google does not listen to me (understandable), and so I keep using Gmail for free.
But what about the rest of Google’s empire? If Google decided to shut down for a day, I bet you that the global stock markets would stop trading by noon, and half the jets in the world would fail to take off. Google is now so pervasive, that they have become nearly a second power grid, or municipal water system: they are in everything, and we depend on them so much, that we forget that depend on them at all.
Google may be a monopoly in search, I tend to think not, but Google is moving to becoming an empire online and off. Google is as Google does, and there isn’t shit that we can do about it. They make the best products and sell them to you for free. I pay free and get amazing tools. Where else am I going to go?
But it scares me, I have to admit. Since I don’t pay Google for all the free love, they have no obligation to me. I am not a customer or client, I am a user; something that is much weaker, in terms of strength of relationship.
I would feel much more comfortable if I was paying Google a fair bit, say $100 a month for all that they do for me. I owe them, I am sure. How many ads have I clicked on in Google in the last six months? Maybe three? How many messages do I have in Gmail right now? Over 60,000. You see the point.
Will Google do this? I hope so. Look at it like this, all Google stays free. If you want actual customer support, someone on the telephone, and to be placed on less compacted servers, you give Google money. Not a lot, they already profit on your free ass, but some to make it all straight. I bet Google could still make amazing margins.
It is a win for everyone: I make my relationship with Google much more solid, by becoming a real client, Google gets more money, and my services get better. All that for around what I pay for my (soon to be chucked) iPhone a month? Deal, sign me up.
Google is too good to lose, too big to go away, and so important that we can’t live without it. It’s time that we made the relationship a real one, and not what we have now. What do you think?
Read next: Don't Know What To Do Next? Your Phone Does.