Damn Google and Their Sweet Apps
I tried. I really did. I scoured the web, tested site after site and product after product. But no matter how far I searched, Google sucked me back into their fold like a dying star dragging every orbiting body into its ever-expanding sphere.
First it was their search engine, their annoyingly heady gateway drug. Then a friend turned me on to Gmail, and I started the slow descent from casual user into full-blown junky, experimenting with all of their damnedly awesome applications, whether they even served a purpose in my life or not. (Picasso? SketchUp? Orkut? Didn’t need ‘em, but damned if I didn’t try ‘em.)
Then I read things that made their slogan “don’t be evil” slightly less than applicable, and it made me pause long enough to realize that I was indeed placing all of my Interwab eggs into a single corporate basket. And my contrarian nature — the same that demands I order tater tots instead of french fries and caucus for Hillary over Barack — started instilling a minor sense of panic.
So I explored. And tried. And downloaded. And beta-tested. I lurked in forums, read Techcrunch and mainlined anything with “beta” slapped over their logo. But in the end, the pull was too strong, and while I remain a fierce independent in many aspects of my life, Google has partially sweet-talked me back into their fold with depressingly functional applications with ridiculously high uptimes. Let’s take a peek on where I suck:
|Search||Google Search||Anything else||Google remains too good to pass up. I like Yahoo and MSN, but a company becomes ubiquitous for a reason.|
|Gmail||Opera via POP, Hotmail||I still have a Hotmail account for junk registrations, but I gave up on POP long ago. Gmail is just too smart. The silver bullet: the Archive button. I cannot believe it took millions of years of evolution to invent that. That and the instant iPod Touch integration.|
|Feed Aggregator||Reader||Bloglines||Google Reader is good, but I’ve been a Bloglines user for a long time, and I’m sticking with the underdog on this one.|
|Site Analytics||Analytics||Performancing, others||Clients love Analytics, thus it remains a stalwart.|
|Document Creation||Docs||Zoho||I tried Zoho for a long time. It was pretty good. Lots of functionality. But it did not work in Opera, my precious, and I was tired of loading Firesuck just to type. So I’m back to Google Docs, which, of course, works perfectly in Opera. (This one is particularly personal, because I was a beta-tester for Writely before GOOG bought it.)|
|Browser||Chrome||Opera||Whatever. Opera is the greatest browser in the history of history. Chrome can go suck a tailpipe.|
|E-commerce||Checkout||PayPal||I have never had a single problem with PayPal, so for now, it remains my shopping cart of choice for light e-commerce.|
|Maps||Maps||Yahoo, Mapquest||Google maps just works. It’s fast, efficient, and correct. I’ll accept this one, since this is one of their home-grown apps, and they remain the leader in features and performance.|
|Instant Messaging||Talk||MSN, Yahoo, AIM||I tried the alternatives, but almost everyone important to me has a Gmail account, so …|
|Omnipotence||Knol||Wikipedia||To me, Knol is destructive competition, like starting a local nonprofit fundraiser for cancer research to compete with that other local nonprofit fundraiser for cancer research. I refuse to traffic or contribute.|
As you can see, my life quite literally operates on the Google platform all day. This is annoying. But their applications always work, and they work well in my browser of choice, and so if I continue on the path of moving as many applications online as I can, then I’m stuck.