Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Google can save itself - sell privacy.

It's been 3 years since the Google-Apple divorce, eight months since Google 1.0 died, and six months since I tried divorcing Google.

Divorcing Google, but planning to go out with something else. That hasn't worked out so well; Apple in particular is exploring new domains of pain.

Meanwhile, the less-facebooky parts of Google+  are improving, even as Twitter enlists with the Sith (don't they know there can only be two?).

So I'm thinking about trying to reconcile with Google - assuming she's still into geeks. How could Google win us/me back?

Google could sell privacy.

Let me explain. In the modern world two populations have privacy. One is poor, lives on cash and checks, and doesn't have a cell phone. The other is Romney-class wealthy. The rest of us are the Transparent Society. We can't buy privacy.

That is, we can't buy it now, but Google could sell it.

Google could sell a yearly G+ privacy subscription for something like $200 year per person or $400 year per family (wild ass guesstimates). For that amount we'd have full control over what we share, and we'd opt out of all advertising and marketing. We'd still be able to opt in to ads if we wanted, and of course there'd be no shield from subpoena. We'd be able to turn on the parts of G+ we want, and disable those we don't want. We might even have the optional use of disposable avatars or identities.

It sounds like a lot of infrastructure to build for a few users, but Google needs to sell into the German and EU market. Their privacy laws are much stricter than America's privacy "suggestions". Google would also like to provide services for the under 13 group, and even in the US that requires enhanced privacy protection. So they have to build this infrastructure anyway.

At a stroke, this would rebuild Google's geek appeal. Most would decide not to pay the price, but there would be no grounds for objections -- because Google's contract with its users would be transparent.

Some of us would pay.

You can do it Google. Save yourself and we'll be happy again.

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