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Get a non-techie android owner off Google, even for just a week. I dare you. No search, No Maps, No calendar, No search, No gmail, No YouTube, no drive, no docs.

Do you really think they can function? Even if they switch to Apple they still have to interface with calendar and gmail to function in society.

Can they even avoid sites hosted by Google?

You make it sound like it's all easy choices. "Just don't buy brand X."

These companies are so large and so ingrained the the web and modern society that they are unavoidable.

You’re right about non-techies switching from Android. They don’t like trying to switch. Many of them like the products. Many of them don’t care that Google is in the business of sucking up data because they place more value on the fact that the products work better for them as a result. There are plenty of people who don’t mind some highly targeted, unobtrusive ads because it’s better than the shitty banners and pop ups that used to be all over the place. Why are they supposed to switch? Because their nerd friend says Google is evil? This is like convincing someone to use Linux back in the day because Microsoft is bad.

To each their own I guess. We have more choices in technology than we’ve ever had. I haven’t used Google search in 10 years. It’s been longer since I used gmail. I used Android on and off and got rid of it permanently after downloading my google archive and seeing what’s in there. I watch videos on YouTube because there isn’t anything better. It’s not just a philosophical choice to avoid Google. That’s part of it but I think many of Google’s products are pretty lackluster as well. Search and gmail are the only ones that they really nailed. Both are phenomenal. The rest of them are mediocre defensive moves to protect the brand from a competitor, neat experiments that don’t become a must-have product, acquisitions or just another thing they’ll kill off. I used search and gmail until the the invasive tracking wasn’t worth it. I avoid Google web properties when I can. I know they still track me as much as they can. I make efforts to minimize the ability for someone to effectively build a profile and I make larger efforts to prevent them from successfully delivering targeting ads or converting.

If enough people stop using Google products, even if they can’t avoid indirectly touching something, Google will eventually want to figure out why and start making things that sell better. They don’t do what they do because they decided to be evil. They do it because it makes money. And people don’t continue to use it because they can’t switch. They use it because they like it or because they don’t have enough of a problem that they’re willing to switch. Instead, they bitch and moan a little bit and then go about their business. Maybe the more vocal ones are clamoring for regulation. That group is essentially saying they don’t like the way the product works even though they’re not the target market and we should make a law to change the product to their liking.

The reality is there is a a huge market where people are willing to trade information for product. I don’t like it but is it that bad that we need to break up companies? It’s put smartphones in places where they wouldn’t be otherwise. It’s connected people. It’s done more to level the playing field in terms of technical literacy and availability than anything anyone has ever done. There are homeless people who still have an android phone and everything that comes with it and that opens doors which would otherwise be shut. Would the world be a better or worse place if none of that came into existence?

We need to start with education. If the masses don’t understand it and the lawmakers don’t understand it we can’t exactly expect them to fix it. Apple is doing a little bit on this front with privacy-oriented products and requiring clear privacy policies from developers. I’d like to see more of this. If they truly differentiate themselves as the privacy (even at a premium) company then we’ve got a couple decent models to choose from. That’s really the key because more than the size or scope of these companies, it’s the homogenization of the industry that concerns me. But first, people need to understand enough about how it works that a company can effectively differentiate their product.

If there has to be legislation then I’d like to see something that requires more transparency of what is collected, how it’s used, give the individual some more control, etc. Something in the spirit of GDPR that isn’t such s shit show.

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