Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seamlessness and Google Wallet

I want to be mad at Google. I really do. When they screw up, it's so monumentally public, as in the nymwars. But then I read a story, and realize, just maybe, that there might be some kind of underlying method to their madness. I just read a story via Virtual News Now that seems to support this cockamamie concept. The complete story is from NFCNews.com.

Permit me to quote a few paragraphs from the end of the article:
(Google Vice President of Payments Osama Bedier says) it is not being in both the online and physical worlds that is key. It is moving seamlessly, stealthily between the two … in and out as if there were no separation. Where Groupon connected the dots between physical and online, Bedier wants to erase the dots.

He talks about the future retail experience like a kid describing a new game console. Imagine when any offer you see online can be instantly added to your phone with a quick tap. If you choose, these offers can even be pushed to you based on your preferences and current location. Enter your local grocery store and receive a reminder of your frequently purchased items, your shopping list and a series of special offers on items you might enjoy.

He says that eventually the actual items will be tagged with NFC chips rather than bar codes. Tap them as you fill your cart and then tap the phone on the payment terminal as you exit the store. No more lines.

Even in this idyllic discussion, he can’t avoid one more inadvertent nose tweak to another audience subset. He circles back correcting himself, explaining that you won’t even need to tap at the payment terminal because the phone will be the POS too.

“The consumer holds the payment tool and the terminal,” he laughs. “POS today is an artifact of the old way. Smart phones are more capable.”

The conference moderator reminds him, only half-jokingly, that a number of POS terminal manufacturers are also in the room.

He grins. “That comment wasn’t for them.”


My own ideas of seamlessness go as far back as early concepts of the semantic web. I had idyllic notions of just asking a search engine where something was, and instead of X number of lists, I'd get one correct answer. One. What it was, where it was located, if it had a price and how much, etc. On a wireless PDA. Palm was the reigning champ then. Phones were just reducing from bricks to candy bars by then.

Doggone it, Google, stop messing with my head. Either I'm going to hate you and leave you, or you're going to be that lover who breaks my heart, but keeps begging for forgiveness and lavishing me with tantalizing "I'm sorry" gifts.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Google addiction, Nymwars, and "Don't be Evil"

Well if you haven't heard by now, Google is embroiled in something called "nymwars". It has to do with pseudonym usage on their Plus service. You have to use your given name on your birth certificate. Many people prefer using a pseudonym on the net, for various reasons. Unique identifier, anonymity, political, whatever. I'm fine with that. But lately, I've had the gnawing feeling that Google has been just a bit over-aggressive in their dealings with the public in general. So I decided to fence-sit, and see how the nymwars has been playing out.

The pseudonym camp has made some very persuasive arguments. To the point that I was ready to undo my habits with the big G. NOT as easy as it sounds. Google has made internet life really comfy for me. I use Chrome. I entertain myself with YouTube. iGoogle is my homepage. Etc, etc, etc. Many of you can relate. So I tried an experiment last night. I un-pinned my Chrome from the win7 taskbar, and set up IE9 as the default browser again. That was the easy part.

Favorites. Bookmarks. Ugh. Why can't there be a standard that everybody can agree to, yet? You don't realize how much time you spend in a particular browser until you look for links. About a year ago I tried a few third party apps that "manage all bookmarks and favorites from all your installed browsers". Again, ugh. I finally had to export everything to Delicious.com in self defense. So at least I know I can retrieve them if I lose something. But after the export/import to/from Delicious, I now have umpteen hundreds of duplicates in IE9 I still need to finish sorting out. I know the default is to save everything, but can't there be some kind of feature that IDs dupes and does self weeding?

Next was the browsing experience itself. Chrome=fast. IE9=fast-ish. The way to disable all the security warnings is to go into internet options and slog through the settings. Just not worth it. Chrome catches most of it in the background. So this morning after one last hopeful browsing session with IE9, I backslid and opened up Chrome.

And, yes, to be as fair as possible, I have used Firefox in the past. Opera, Crazybrowser, Safari, and many others. Chrome just has a "feels right" to me. As other browsers come (and go) I'll probably try them as well. But I've gotten off on a tangent here. Back to the original commentary.

There are going to be people that will give up using anything Google, out of the principle that they dropped the "Don't be Evil" ball. And I applaud those people. Those are the folks that will keep the internet, and life online in general, open and free, and keep the governments and corporations at bay. Not all wars are fought with projectile weapons of mass destruction. God bless you folks.

But I'm a Google junkie now. There, I've said it. I drank the cool-aid. I got comfy in their bed. I took their cookies, and greedily gobbled them up, panting for more. Larry, Sergey, and Eric all know my name, my life, and my darkest secrets, and sell them to the ones willing to pay for that info. I'll gladly admit that yeah. big G did drop the "evil" ball. But you know what? That ball gets passed around in a wonderful game of Hot Potato. A few years ago, Microsoft had it. And occasionally Apple is caught red-handed. So until I feel that I need to find something that is even better than Google to fit my personal tastes, I'm gonna stay in bed with Google.

Are there any more cookies to nibble on?.....