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When will Google’s “Hailstorm” come?

A new article in the New York Times discusses the privacy concerns raised by Google’s acquisition of Jaiku. In fact, Nick Carr pointed out a specific quote on his blog tonight from Jaiku’s founder about the “illusion of privacy” held by most people using the Internet. While this quote may prove to be unfortunate from a PR perspective, the question that this raises is when will Internet users start to view Google more skeptically based on their growing base of applications and treasure trove of user data that comes from use of GMail, user search behavior, and many other interactions with the Google “service cloud”.

This situation reminds me of Microsoft’s Hailstorm initiative. As Scoble predicted two years ago, it is just a matter of time before Google recreates their own Hailstorm. The concept of Hailstorm wasn’t a bad one, but the concerns around platform and data “lock-in” threw users into an uproar when Microsoft introduced the concept nearly 6 years ago. Today, I wonder if/when users will reach a similar level of outrage against Google as their services continue to evolve and more data is owned by Google’s infrastructure.

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  1. October 21, 2007 at 11:16 pm | #1

    It’s a good question, and one that more and more people have raised with each new acquisition, each new field Google enters.

    I don’t think Hailstorm would be the right analogy though… that initiative pressed privacy concerns but did not attack the core of what Microsoft was doing. The more apt analogy may be the security concerns that arose a few years after ActiveX in browsers, COM integration with websites, and the rest. From what I understand, XP SP2 security issues were a major factor in the delay of Vista… the security decisions made in the mid-90s bore fruit ten years later, to the eventual detriment of the company.

    Put another way, Microsoft’s multi-level hyperintegration of application functionality a decade ago seems like it may be mirrored by Google’s multi-level hyperintegration of audience data over the next decade.

    I see no evidence that corporate Google really understands the blowback it seems like they’ll eventually receive. The “web bug” uproar over DoubleClick in the late 90s has not yet reached its conclusion. Keeping Al Gore as a special advisor and offering health data storage are not signals of awareness either.

    (Disclosure: I work with Adobe, but folks there don’t discuss these types of issues with me… my own personal understandings, that’s what these are.)

    jd

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