For a long time, I've been thinking in what a company like Google could morph into. Just think about what you could do with the assets they have, large data centers for data storage/processing. The most visited websites in the world, the most popular smart phone operating system, Google analytics being used by a large number of webmasters and self driving cars; all of these products can collect data of our daily habits, which websites we visit and where we travel. What triggered me to write this blog post was a thread on Threadwatch by Joe Hall;
If you haven't heard of Google Now yet, you really should take a look at it....a serious look at it....This mobile app/platform tracks your movements and activities to act as a personal assistant of sorts through out the day. So for example if every day you take the same route to work, Google Now can give you a weather report for that route automatically. Sounds neat right? Yes, if you are willing to hand over your location data, personal habits, and daily routine to the worlds largest advertising platform.....yes that's real neat! And now as Barry Schwartz points out, Google Now can now show your boss your exact location.
The most interesting to me is that it integrates with Google+ Locations and let's you see when your employees or co-workers get to work, leave work, get home and so forth. It can also notify you when your kids leave school or get to school.
If you ask me, this is all just way to much. I mean seriously when are we going to draw the line on our personal privacy just so we can have a fun gadget????
Now let me paint a scenario what I've been thinking about.
- You're driving in your self driving car for your commute to work every day, while you work or read on your Chrome book.
- Suddenly, your car gives you a warning the car needs gas
- You give the car the approval to find the nearest/best gas station
Sounds about right, the car would plan the best route to a gas station you can fill up your car, and continue the drive home. But here comes the conflict of interest in play, while Google self driving car would like to take you from A to B, in either the fastest route or the most economical route, based on the premise of shareholder maximization, the car could decide on a different plan without even informing you.
Google is a profit maximization company, where the revenue is driven by advertising budgets. What if a gas station which is not on a convenient route for commuters to get to is willing to pay x$ for every lead Google brings to their pump. The car could make a decision that it's in Google's shareholders best interest to skip the cheaper gas from the station right next to the road, in favor of the gas station willing to pay a kick back on the gas it sells through the Google advertising program.
Now suddenly Google will have a giant new revenue stream from all kind of offline stores, services and gas stations just based on the automatic optimization for revenue maximization. How's that for a business model. And with your Android or Chrome book, and Google wallet, you did not even notice you were ripped off, as you never saw the money leaving your wallet!
Suddenly, the self driving cars, the Android push and the acquisition of Waze all make sense, right?