Yesterday, Google announced the Data Liberation Front, "whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products." While this should give users some peace of mind that they won’t be locked into Google products, and even attract some people to Google products, it does raise an important question. Specifically, do we rely on Google too much, such that we should think about spreading our eggs among other baskets? For many of us, it seems that our lives are in Google. I’ll be the first to admit that my productivity is dependent on Google. I use Google Apps, Gmail, Reader, Voice, and Docs, among others. Are you doing this, too? Is this unwise? I’d like to know what you think, in both the poll and comments after the jump.
There are a few considerations when weighing whether you should diversify. This first is reliability. Gmail’s web access went down for 100 minutes on September 1. IMAP and POP3 access were unaffected. The reason that this outage was news, though, was because it was so unusual. Generally, Google services are reliable. But the Gmail outage raises a scary thought – what if ALL of Google would go offline for an extended period? Those who rely on several Google services could really be in a pickle. Using Google Gears to gain offline access to some apps lessens this danger somewhat, but not completely. If you had yourself spread among other providers’ services, then you wouldn’t have this problem.
Another consideration is privacy. We all provide Google with a massive amount of data, some of it personally identifiable. We have the ability to opt out of some privacy intrusions, but by and large we trust Google to respect our privacy. Is this smart? Are we any better off entrusting our data to other providers, about whom we know even less?
We also must be mindful of competition, or the lack of competition, if too many of us keep all of our eggs in the Google basket. Competition drives innovation, and it would be bad for end users if Google becomes the only game in town. Google already has a reputation for keeping services in Beta for an extended period, although other apps like Voice show us that Google is still innovating.
I’m guilty of putting too many eggs in the Google basket. Every now and then I try to use other services, such as Zoho Writer, but I always gravitate back to Google, possibly out of convenience. How about you? Let us know in the poll, and the comments below.