Google's Invasions of Privacy, Free But Flawed Products Show Its Arrogance

Google is now admitting that its users shouldn't expect privacy when using Gmail. Meanwhile, a PC OEM says the free Android OS costs more, and causes more headaches, than Windows. Put this together, CIO.com columnist Rob Enderle says, and you have a company that very well may be too arrogant to survive.

By Rob Enderle
Fri, August 16, 2013

CIO — Boy, if ever there was testimony that should have IT departments running from any Google product, it's coming from a lawsuit alleging that Google has violated wiretapping laws by probing private messages to target ads.

Google's defense? Users—that's you and me—have no reasonable expectation of privacy when using a third-party service like Gmail. Since Google provides a variety of third-party services to businesses that are partially or completely funded by ads, this policy statement should give IT folks cold chills.

Google and Privacy

While I have a hard time believing in context that Google actually thinks it's OK to probe your firm's private information, you have to recall that both Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison believe that Google actually stole from them. This does suggest that Google's ethics are a tad fluid and that the folks in Mountain View can be a tad opportunistic.

In other words, if it benefits Google to probe your stuff, it'll find a way to do it, then defend that practice after the fact—much like the company is doing right now.

How Android Demonstrates the High Cost of "Free"

Last week I had a conversation with an Asian PC OEM who expressed his regrets about choosing Android. Since it was basically free, Android looked so attractive at the start, he says. As a Windows partner, though, he got market development funds (MDF) as well as support for drivers and ensured compatibility with existing and planned systems.

With Android, he got squat. On top of that, customers expected him to pass on the savings, since he got the OS for free. Between that, making up for lost MDF and doing all of the compatibility work himself, he lost money deploying this "free" OS.

On top of this, the OEM sells an IT solution set. The lack of security on Android devices causes all kinds of problems given that his firm is expected to correct the related OS exposures. But he doesn't have the resources to fix the OS, and the Android license doesn't allow him to do what Amazon does and fork the code to create a more secure version.

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Finally, this OEM tells me that, while most of his initial tablet orders were Android, over time the orders have shifted back to Windows, largely because of his inability to fix Android's security and compatibility issues. Windows, while more expensive, was actually profitable for this firm; Android wasn't. Though this OEM admittedly serves large entities such as enterprise and government customers, I walked away from the conversation understanding that, sometimes, free can be quite expensive.

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