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Betanews: "Can You Give up Google?"

Recently, Betanews’ Joe Wilcox posed an interesting question to readers, “Can you give up Google?”

Wilcox then describes his own attempt to find an answer: “Over the coming weeks, I will disenfranchise myself from as many Google products and services as possible.” He goes on to list the “about 30 Google products or services” he uses “at least once a month” and speculates which will be most difficult to replace.

Wilcox’s experiment is all the more intriguing, given the ongoing debate about Google’s “less than free” business model and its impact on competition and innovation in the marketplace. It also highlights concerns we raised early on about Google’s ability to leverage its other “free” products and services to protect its already dominant position in search and enhance its position in search verticals, like travel.

Wilcox isn’t the first to raise the question about the danger of dependence on Google. Last November, Tim Wu wrote that when it comes to information companies, like Google “Over the long haul, competition has been the exception, monopoly the rule.” He went on to explain that “the problem is that dominant firms are like congressional incumbents and African dictators: They rarely give up even when they are clearly past their prime. Facing decline, they do everything possible to stay in power. And that’s when the rest of us suffer.”