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Archive for October, 2009


Google begins attack on Zillow

Look out, Zillow, Google wants to eat your lunch:

Zillow better watch out: The latest thing to emerge from Google's barrage of launches this week duplicates one of the Seattle startup's most valuable features.

Google is now offering an instant mortgage quote service that instantly connects lenders to buyers, and provides useful tools for comparison shopping. It also instantly estimates house values (a Gestimate?) provided by IntelliReal.

Just another “free” product that Google can use to mine information from out of people. It's really amazing that so few people seem concerned about Google's relentless march into people's personal lives. If Google was the government, libertarians everywhere would be running around screaming about this. But not too many libertarians seem too concerned about Google. Something they should keep in mind: A massive corporation isn't much different than the government.

It's time people started caring about what Google is doing with the data it's collecting from them. And the profiles it is building from that data.


Google wants to be able to track your every move

They're also launching a new product and invading a new market:

In a move that is likely to be seen as an attack on yet another industry, Google on Wednesday said it would release a free navigation system for mobile phones that offers turn-by-turn directions.

Analysts said that Google’s free service, if successful, could erode the sales of GPS navigation devices made by companies like Garmin and TomTom and of navigation services offered by cellphone carriers.

“There’s no doubt that those guys are going to be disrupted,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst with Opus Research.

More surprising is that Google is acknowledging from the get-go that it wants to load up this application with ads before long. Driving from Mountain View to San Ramon? You might see an ad for your favorite fast food restaurant which has a franchise along the way. Meanwhile, your trip across the Bay Area gets recorded by Google's computers. Your precise location will be tracked by Google if you use their software.

The only way to protect your privacy and prevent Google from recording your movements is to avoid using Google software. That means saying NO to Android, NO to Google Maps, and NO to this latest piece of GPS spyware from Google.


Schmidt: It's even better when we we can collect information about people from their employers

If Google gets its way, there will be no place to stay safe from its unblinking Big Brother eyeballs:

The company has done well so far with services that appeal chiefly to consumers, but Schmidt said at the Gartner Symposium here that Google likes services that become part people's lives regardless of whether they are doing work. And because the company covers its costs by charging enterprise accounts $50 per person per year for those services at work, he said it's just a matter of attaining scale before the business becomes “very profitable” for Google.

Google's goal is to be able to watch everyone, all the time, no matter where they are or who they're with. Home, work, on vacation. If you use Google products and so does your employer, what doesn't Google know about you?

Talk about a creepy, undesirable future…


Apple getting ready to ditch Google Maps?

It sure would be great if they did:

Apple has had a fairly comfortable relationship with Google in the past—CEO Eric Schmidt had a place on Apple's board, Google is the default search for its Safari browser, and Google Maps and YouTube are first-class applications on the iPhone. Apple has even created a maps API that allows iPhone developers to easily include Google Map data directly into their own apps. However, earlier this year Apple bought a small startup that created its own Google Maps competitor. The purchase may be a sign that growing competition between the two companies—which resulted in the recent resignation of Schmidt from Apple's board—could be causing a rift in the once-friendly alliance.

The mapping company Apple bought is called Placebase, and its CEO is now part of what is called the “Geo Team” at Apple.

Google rivals Yahoo and Microsoft already offer their own online maps, and there's also MapQuest, which is owned by AOL. Of Google's rivals, Bing Maps (from Microsoft) is perhaps the best, with its Birds Eye View imagery a standout feature.

More competition would be a good thing… when there are alternatives to Google, users have choices and can avoid placing all their data in the grasp of one company.