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do you give google money? if not, you're not a customer and have probably never experienced their customer service or a "customer perspective".

I'm a multiple paying customer. I use Google Apps, AdWords. I can't use Google Plus under the same ID as Apps, because Google appear to think that paying customers are less valuable than free users. And we (Apps Users) went for ages without any explanation other than "we're working on it".

To do any work using AdWords and Google Apps and Google Analytics, and Webmaster Tools I end up using three accounts and two browsers.

If Google did Platforms, then the first one to fix is "who the F* am I?" (Authentication and Access Control) and make it get used everywhere.

Hell, Google can't even work out what to name things. So you get scammers exploiting Google.com naming to convince marks that the scammer really works for Google. This is also a Platform issue - Google.com should be for Google stuff - not abusable to allow, for example, spoofing a search results page so you can claim that Google has given you special access to modify search results (one SEO scam that I keep encountering). Non-Google stuff should be on an identifiable domain, which will eventually permeate user consciousness as being "not Google content".

I speak as a pure outsider and consumer of Google stuff. But I'm sufficiently vexed by Google Apps/Accounts/Profiles to want to lose the paid for services as much and as soon as possible. I get better (or no worse) treated when I don't buy. :)

And Stephen's point about Google arrogance - yes, I think Google is arrogant. I was an AdWords Help Forum Top Contributor until Google decided that small businesses should only receive AdWords support from other users, not Google. That's seriously annoying. I stopped contributing when it became clear that Google thought small businesses should be denied any customer service - you really can't have third parties answering questions about why Google isn't accepting a specific credit card, or even why a specific disapproval has been given in an account you can't see. That was pure arrogance - dumping on volunteers and crapping on small businesses. I'm told it's different now but I still have such a bad taste in my mouth from the experience I don't want to get involved again. Google can be arrogant, 100%.

I give Amazon money for AWS and no customer support in sight.

Unless you're constantly blocking ads, you're a google customer and you give them money. Don't be fooled by an apparently "free" service :)

Viewing ads makes you the product not the customer.

There is a thing called a "multi-sided market".

Saying "you are the product not the customer" is not only popularist, but wrong.

Think about Skype - most of their customers don't pay, but they derive value FROM Skype - AND they add value to the paying customers.

Simplifying complicated markets with statements like "you are the product not the customer" is a disservice to the discussion.

I've worked with a number of tech/advertising corporations. The parent poster is right. The real product is eyeballs, and the customer is another corporation called the advertiser.

For example, The New York Times offers some value to the owners of those eyeballs, but note how they work: they lay out the advertising first, then what's left is what they call the "news hole" and they put some stuff there. The news hole lets them farm the eyeballs. (The ripe juicy professional-managerial variety.)

This is not something programmers like to think about, so they tend to wear ideological blinders. They don't simply observe the money flow: who is buying and who is selling? The eyeball owners are not participating in a market transaction as either buyer or seller. Their attention is the product.

To say "eyeballs are the product" simplifies this too much.

Think of sports teams - advertisers pay their salaries, but when they are performing on the sports field advertisers are irrellevant.

You either pay for the product, or you ARE the product.

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