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Bad PR Aside, Why We’re Still Hooked on Google, Apple and Facebook

They’re the three giants who dominate the virtual and technological worlds, and as with anything that’s perversely popular, they share a love-hate relationship with their users. We continue to use their products and services, even as we cannot help but crib about their underhand techniques to gain more control over our lives. And so, in spite of all the bad PR these companies have been receiving, Apple, Google and Facebook continue to sit pretty at the top of the technology mountain.

Facebook has been in the eye of the storm for quite some time now for its casual and even lackadaisical stand on privacy. As its young CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed privacy as “no longer a social norm” and said that the age of privacy was over, Facebook has been guilty of sending private emails to the wrong recipients and allowing users to see their friends’ private chat sessions. And now with the new Open Graph initiative, Facebook is treading on unchartered ground by becoming a pervasive influence all over the web. With Open Graph, you can use your Facebook profile to link to any site that is part of this initiative, and your preferences over the web will be reflected back to your Facebook account and be visible to your friends.

Google is desperately trying to recapture its position as the leader of the web, but its Buzz failed to generate the right buzz simply because it was similar to Twitter and Facebook. Even religious Gmail users were annoyed with the features of Buzz because it was intrusive and not something they wanted inside the environment of their mailbox (it’s bad enough that Google allows people to chat from within its email client, but at least they allow you an option to go invisible). And so Google was forced to include an option that allowed Gmail users to turn Buzz off.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that an apple was the cause of Adam and Eve’s banishment from paradise, and that millions of years later, the same name is being associated with the tricks of the devil again. Apple, the company that started out as the champion of the unconventional and that relied on quality to sell its products, is now playing to the gallery with its list of ridiculously expensive and hyped iProducts. Yes, the iGadgets are good and you do tend to get hooked on them, but with Apple refusing to work in harmony with developers and third party software providers, there is a lack of standardization that makes your Apple device stick out like a sore thumb among the rest of your gadgets.

So now do you see why you alternate between the extreme emotions of revulsion and adoration when it comes to these IT titans? You want to hate and ignore them, but you know they’ve got you hooked. You don’t care much for their practices and policies, but you cannot bring yourself to effect a clean break with your Facebook account, Google applications, or your Apple products. And that’s why you throw privacy to the winds as long as you get to check your Facebook account every few minutes; that’s why you don’t care about the holes in your pocket as long as Apple keeps coming up with flashy new gadgets (never mind the fact that they don’t support Flash); and that’s why you cannot get past Google as your primary search engine even though you know it’s playing Big Brother and collecting every scrap of information about you!

Perhaps if you had viable alternatives that gave you just what you wanted without making you compromise on the quality of service or on privacy issues, you would think of switching your loyalty. But with the near-monopoly that these giants enjoy right now, it’s hard to think of any other company being able to gain even a toehold in the industry because most people have already established themselves in the domains of Google, Facebook and Apple. So to switch now would be akin to leaving your home and moving to another location, a pain in the neck activity even though you don’t like your neighborhood too much, unless of course, the alternative is really enticing and much better than what we have now. So for competition to gain entry and establish themselves, they must address the needs that these giants fail to fulfill, and also know how to market this to the people they want as customers.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of online degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009@gmail.com