In Google I trust

I’ve been a long time Web-based email user in my personal life and made the switch to using Gmail a few years ago. Slowly but surely, much of my life has migrated to "the cloud" and specifically to Google’s services. I switched my calendar early on from paper to the Web, and when Google Calendar launched with the ability to manage multiple calendars, I was in heaven. Add in tools like Google Docs where I practically run my personal life and Google Reader for my RSS feeds, and a substantial part of my time and life resides on Google. And that doesn’t even include search.

And it’s getting better/worse, depending on how you look at it. Since becoming independent, I’ve shifted all of my work email and calendaring to go through Google, although I have taken steps such as synching to Outlook and owning my own domains to ensure that I have backup to the cloud. And with good reason — Chris Brogan wrote about how his colleague Nick Saber got locked out of his Google account, and how it was eventually resolved.

This post is not about the merits and faults of cloud computing, but rather, how much trust I put into Google — and any other online service that I use, like Yahoo!, Facebook, and TypePad. In the end, it’s a leap of faith that I take each and every day.

So in Google I trust – for the most part. Google has earned my trust over the years with good, reliable, innovative products. And maybe I’m just a naive, trusting person, but I believe that most companies like Google will try to do the right thing because they don’t want another Facebook-like Beacon fiasco

But Google can and should do more to continue to earn my trust. Phil Wainwright over at ZDNet pointed this out, laying out steps like providing a premium service for serious account users. This applies even more to start-ups — I think twice about giving my information to a company that may not be around tomorrow.

Take a look at your own experience, and replace "Google" with whatever service that you’re using and ask yourself, what makes me confident that Google et. al. will do the right thing by me? And I would love to know, just how much you trust your online service providers and what they can do better to keep that trust.

Comments

  1. Glad to hear you’re having a good experience – I have lots of issues myself. GDocs ate what had become an important Presentation deck for me. I am just waiting for the time I can go back to NetNewsWire after several months of giving Google Reader another try (slow updating of feeds, hard to navigate through long feed list). I am skeptical, too, of putting so much of my data in the hands of one service provider. Real glad that all the Google Data APIs now have OAuth support, would love to see some other folks come along and pull out my data just in case.

  2. Charlene,
    I guess I’m not as trusting as you are. I don’t like to have all my eggs in one basket because if something goes awry, I might be screwed in a big way. For example, I won’t sign up for one of those 3-in-1 offers to have cable, phone and internet by one service provider at home (even though it might be cheaper) because I’d like to know that when the cable goes out, I can still get on DSL. Same goes for email, calendaring, etc. I want to spread my risk around. Plus, something about the idea that one company could have so much data about me is just a little creepy. I have no illusions of privacy, I jut don’t want to make it that easy for Google to become Big Brother.
    Carri

  3. Charlene, did you see this story in the Economist last year. Approaches the same phenomenon from the other side.
    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9725272&CFID=19559183&CFTOKEN=98842641
    Google + Trust = $$$$$. When they figure out how to apply the relevance factor to banner ads on non-search content (ie, DoubleClick), it’s game over.
    Buy GOOG.
    (No tags? Links iz ugly.)

  4. I am not sure I “trust” Google, but I feel confident after paying them for Google apps that things will turn out okay.
    The only “company” I trust is actually J&J.

  5. Web services have to do a lot more — they have to be transparent to earn that trust. Salesforce.com figured this out earlier and built trust.salesforce.com (we copied it at trust.echosign.com at echosign).

  6. Greg Lowe says:

    I feel that Google is one bad earnings report away from a change in use of my personal information, and believe Google already knows too much about me, and dread the day where “We shall do no evil” is trumped by the bottom line.

  7. I can see Google continuing to engage our trust – they’re a publicly-held company forced to report earnings, structural/ecosystem conflicts, etc. regularly.
    I have issues (and have blogged about them) with privately-held CMS providers like Marqui who are not managed well enough to make it. They’re in receivership, trying their best to sell the company and keep their customers engaged with them, and everyone’s feeling a little agony.
    That’s where trusting relative ‘strangers’ with your data can be dangerous. As in any technology business, it’s not always the technology, it’s the *people running the business* that we should vet constantly for trust.

  8. I read this last week, and thought “that’s brave”. I couldn’t imagine doing that, being a control freak over my own data. And then, the power module to my laptop died today. It’ll be 2 or 3 weeks before I can get a replacement part, and access to my files.
    I now wish I had uploaded more stuff to Google Docs.

  9. Matt Carolan says:

    Like you, I rely on Google. I use Google for mail, RSS and docs. I really like the service. It’s helped me a great deal in my organizing my small business activity. My trust of them is based on their continually offering new features and services, and their relatively uninterrupted up-time. (Gmail didn’t work for a short spell a few days ago.) Plus, their PPC ads are usually relevant to my emails, which doesn’t bother me. All in all, like you, I’m happy with them. They have a vested interest in keeping their service going, so I stay with them. If they start to stagger, I’ll just move to someone else.

  10. Thanks for the lovely post. Love the idea
    On another note,I have been using a great free internet connection from http://www.gonuts4free.co.uk which works in the UK United Kingdom England. It was free of charge, fast, secure and very stable. Just by using my normal ordinary modem i managed to install it fast and easy. Great service, no fees and no extra charges. A very happy client ! They also provide superb support! Thank you.

  11. Interesting post. Google is one of the most trusted brands but the question is how much of that is taken for granted and what does it have to do to constantly remain above the mark? I’ve blogged your post over @ http://www.youth-marketing-buzz.com/2008/10/buzz-words-trust.html

  12. For over the years, google has seen that it is one that is trusted in the web,. True enough, a lot of people are searching in google that lead to the number one rank search engine in the internet.

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