Like much of the planet, I was an avid user of Google for many years. Mostly for search, but I also used Google Maps, Google Earth, Gmail (just as an automatic backup for my .mac account, however) and at times, Google Groups. I tried Google Wave, but like most folks, never really figured out what to do with it. I don’t use Chrome-Safari’s UI and overall design just seems better. Indeed, Google’s design isn’t that great. It tends to be very bare-bones and lacks the elegance of many OS X apps.
But for search and a few other things, it clearly functioned well. But I have become very disappointed by Google’s misguided stance on privacy and more recently, net neutrality. They’re on the wrong side of both, and as much as I’m not a fan of Microsoft, I’ve switched to Bing as my search engine of choice on both my MacBook Pro and iPhone.
Again, I’m not enamored with Microsoft. Their designs are generally also pretty poor, and functionality-well, let’s just say that I know a lot of PC users who despise how often Word and other Office apps crash or just don’t work correctly. And on the OS X side, it’s no better. If I didn’t have to use Office for work, I would ditch it in a heartbeat. But iWork still has issues in a cross-platform environment. I use Keynote for my own personal presentations, but at most professional meetings it’s de rigeur to use the PC provided rather than one’s own Mac, so all presentations have to be in PowerPoint format anyway. Sigh.
But back to Google. Yes, Microsoft is bad, but Google, I think, is even worse. Like most corporations, they’ve gotten so big that they’ve become all about profits. But worse than that, they don’t seem to care about privacy or net neutrality. At least Microsoft makes some attempt to safeguard their users’ privacy.
Google is not about search anyway, but about advertising. AdSense is still the main source of Google’s revenues, and by a great amount. Android, for all its prevalence, contributes very little to Google’s bottom line, and probably never will generate a ton of revenue. Same for pretty much everything else Google does. It’s all about search-generated advertising revenue.
That’s not new, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it. But when Google places its own profits above its users, I have to think about other alternatives. Bing, while not perfect, is actually pretty good. While both Bing and Google show flight statistics, Bing provides a bit more information. In other words, while Bing isn’t necessarily better than Google, it’s good enough and in some cases, does have more functionality. The competition is actually good for users, in that Google is now playing catch-up to achieve parity with Bing’s progress. And part of me admires Sergey and Larry for having been nerds who made good while in grad school. But the company is going against its own core principles, and I have no need to keep using Google’s search engine anymore. So I won’t. And when MS or some other company achieves parity with Google Maps (Apple, perhaps, at least on the iPhone?) I’ll switch in a heartbeat. I never thought I’d favor anything by Microsoft over Google, but we live in strange times, and I do admit I’m not regretting leaving Google’s minimalist (read: boring but functional) search page for other horizons.