Is Google Becoming “Big Brother”?
Happy Friday friends! I guess some might say the better question is has Google become the Big Brother?
Unless you’ve been living under a digital rock the past few days, you know that Google bought Nest, the maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors for a cool $3.2 billion. Until I started seeing headlines about the acquisition I had absolutely no clue who Nest was or why Google would want to buy them.
I know this really has nothing to do with personal finance, on one level, but is interesting to look at from my advertising perspective. That said, I will get out of the way that I’m not really a conspiracy theorist, or anything like that, but I do believe it poses some interesting questions that should be pondered – especially in today’s age of NSA spying and the like.
How Does Google Benefit From Buying a Thermostat Company?
I’ve discussed how Google can benefit from different actions they take some time ago when I discussed the introduction of the Google Chromecast. While I do believe that the Chromecast does offer some valuable possibilities in terms of more options in the war against cable television, it does also offer Google valuable information they can use to market to us.
What does the purchase of Nest offer Google – more information, plain and simple. These “nests” as they’re called are built to get to know us. They do this by determining how we act and then changing the temperature in our homes. While it may sound harmless, it is only the tip of the iceberg of what Google could do with such technology.
According to Marcus Wohlsen in Wired Magazine what Google is angling for is this: “As the devices talk to each other, by building an aggregate picture of human behavior, they anticipate what we want before even we know.”
Freaky, huh? I read that quote, and others like it, I immediately start remembering scenes from Back to the Future II (I know I’m dating myself here) where all their devices spoke to each other and they could cook dinner in less than three seconds thanks to some sort of fusion technology.
Ultimately, again, it’s the information Google can get on us which is beneficial to them. They get it from our internet searching, from many of our phones, to many other things. That information is incredibly valuable to have on a variety of levels. That information may not necessarily be meant to be used in a sinister or “evil” fashion, but it very well can be used to benefit their already fat bottom line.
Is The Convenience Worth it?
You could say that I’m being a conspiracy nut, though I simply believe this is fodder for great conversation. The argument that could be given to us behind Google buying Nest is bringing us more convenience.
Does the thought of some device knowing when I’d like my house heated/cooled to a certain level sound appealing? Sure it does. But, it would be naïve to believe it begins and ends there. I don’t believe that Google grasps yet what they have the capability for with growing information, beyond marketing capabilities, but it is big.
The kicker in all of this is that we’re actually paying them to collect these store houses of information on us through purchasing phones, using their search functionality and things like the Chromecast. At least, that’s what some believe. I know I’m certainly guilty of paying them to do it and many of us are. That said, when asked what this would mean if it was the government collecting this information on us I liked the response given by Jeff Macke of Yahoo Finance “I don’t know what they do with that information. But if the government wanted to know all that, I would be really paranoid.”
So, again, not really applicable on many levels to personal finance, but a very interesting question (in my opinion at least 😉 ) as to whether or not Google is or becoming “Big Brother” and what that means for us as we live our lives.
As many of you know, Mrs. Frugal Rules and I will be in Vegas next week for a much anticipated vacation! I’ve got the week filled with some awesome guest posts and our regular cast of staff writers for you to enjoy. Oh, and for those who’ve asked, I’ve decided not to get a tattoo next week – sorry Mrs. Frugal Rules. 😉
I also thought I’d share a little link love as it has been quite some time since I did that and would like to share some of the blog posts I’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks.
15 Ways to Improve Your Finances in the New Year – Part 1 on Young Adult Money
When Free Isn’t Worth it on The Broke and Beautiful Life
What Does it Mean to “Roll Over” Your 401(k)? on The Simple Money Blog
New Year – Time for a Financial Tune Up on Financially Blonde
What do you think? Has Google become “Big Brother”? Would you buy a thermostat that got to “know” you for the sake of convenience? Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend?
Photo courtesy of: Robert Scoble