Editorial:Google=Fail x 3

I told you so.

When Google first announced its “mobile wallet” last year, I just knew it was going to be a really bad idea, and predicted there would be problems with it in my blog post back in May.

This week, it was confirmed my hunch was entirely correct. It’s not like I had any kind of crystal ball or anything–I just figured that any mobile device that has a credit card type capability that can be hacked; would be, and it was.

On the plus side for consumers, there is still only one device that has the mobile wallet feature, and that is Sprint’s Nexus 4-G. Because hackers found a way to crack mobile wallet encryption and steal money from accounts connected to the phones; Google has frozen all of their customers mobile wallet accounts accounts for the time being until they fix the problem.

Within the past month, they managed to tick off consumers nationwide including the U.S. Congress because of sweeping new changes to their new privacy rules which many people think give them way too much leeway to exploit private user information.

Then, within the past two weeks, Symantec put out a warning to Android phone users saying that Google was not screening Android market apps carefully enough, and they were allowing virus-infected apps to be downloaded onto hundreds of thousands of mobile phones as a result.

Microsoft got into the act as well, slamming Google’s security as at least 10 years behind their own–and when you think about that statement, doesn’t it make you shudder? I mean really–with Microsoft code so ridiculously riddled with holes that it is the most hacked on the planet; they actually felt confident enough to diss Google? Really. Hello Pot? Meet Kettle.

Google quickly countered, saying in effect “we have an app for that”; announcing that they now have instituted an automatic screening process that runs new Android Market apps through an antivirus program. They also said that they would also screen apps previously approved for the market.

Well, shame on you Google!  Why weren’t you doing that in the first place? Apple has been screening their iPhone apps prior to allowing them to be released to the public as a matter of course  from day one.

The fact that it took Google this long to do the same thing with Android apps is just stupid, irresponsible, and one more indication that Google has gotten too big and too arrogant to actually care about its customers.

I don’t generally go off on extended rants against companies like this–well, not that often. Give me a little encouragement and I’ll start doing a little Dell bashing–but I digress. It’s Google that has inspired my ire today.

That they did not write their code for the Google wallet with enough security to keep it from being cracked within the first eight months, is just a joke. Well, no not really–it’s not a joke for all the people who got ripped off.

Of course, it’s not like Google planned this. I totally get that hackers and criminals are getting smarter and more sophisticated every day.

But that doesn’t excuse a big company like Google from taking proper care to create and distribute products that do not literally pick their customers’ pockets–which is exactly what the Google wallet was doing.

To be fair, it is quite possible that Google will come  up with a fix very soon for any and all shortcomings I have mentioned so far in this article, and I sure hope they do. They need to, because we depend on them so much.

Google is as ubiquitous as the air that we breathe. Their name is synonymous with web search. Their mobile OS is the most widely used on the planet. They are like the all-knowing and all seeing Wizard of Oz. Or Chicken Man. They’re everywhere.

Through various Google online and mobile applications the company has the ability to know pretty much everything we do. Google databases hold information about where we live, where we travel, what we say, what we buy, and how we buy it. There’s no point in worrying about the government being “Big Brother”. Big Brother, thy name is Google.

With that much power should come more responsibility. At this moment, I’m just not seeing it. It doesn’t appear that they are doing everything they can to protect and serve their customers.

Instead,  it appears they are doing everything they can to use and exploit their customers; which is definitely not the kind of customer service reputation they would likely want to have. They are not, to be sure, the “Nordstrom” (known for world-class customer service) of tech companies!

So, the ball is in their court. Let’s see if they pick it up and act like responsible corporate citizens; shoring up the holes in their mobile wallet, making sure that apps in the Android Market are safe and malware free, and making it easier for people to understand their new privacy policy and control how their personal information is being used across all Google platforms.


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