Google, good will, and our data
Google has thus far managed to avoid the worst of the backlash against big tech companies. It has probably the richest and most diverse collection of data about many of us, and yet the likes of Facebook and Amazon receive much more public scorn.
Part of the reason for this is that Google has burrowed its way into our lives with a huge number of truly valuable services that many of us find indispensable.
And that’s why it’s hard not to feel cheated when Google closes services down. Google’s Trips app was a really useful tool
, bringing together everything the company knew about your from your email and location history to help make travelling on trips away from home easier.
Google hasn’t given a clear reason why it’s closing Trips down, only that the app’s functionality is available in Search and Maps — just no longer all in one handy mobile app.
The most straightforward reason for Trips to close is that it can’t be as easily monetised as Search and Maps, and it doesn’t have enough users to bother building ads into it. That would follow Google’s policy in recent years of shutting down products that can’t justify themselves commercially.
But services like the Trips app serve another purpose — they help keep us happy about sharing our data with Google. If we feel like we’re getting lots in return, then our relationship with Google feels more like a partnership than one of ‘data subject and data seller.’
Helping us make the most of our data — even with products that can’t be monetised — maintains goodwill with customers. The incredibly profitable Google should remember that at a time when tech giants face increasing scrutiny.