Google is in between the proverbial rock and a hard place these days. On one hand, you have newer competitors who have been able to build their empires with social media as the central rallying point. Facebook is the obvious choice here. When Facebook adds another service there is an initial wave of whining followed by resignation to the fact that Facebook has all of your stuff.
Google, on the other hand, is trying to do the online equivalent of herding cats by getting different disparate pieces of a very wide product and service offering to be drawn together for the first time. In the process, they become an easy target for people to point at regarding privacy and Google’s obvious attempts to have data across platforms play together so they can serve ads correctly. They have a difficult task ahead and it’s not getting easier.
Their latest attempt at Google unity is the Account Activity feature it has rolled out. The Google blog notes
Every day we aim to make technology so simple and intuitive that you stop thinking about it—we want Google to work so well, it just blends into your life. But sometimes it’s helpful to step back and take stock of what you’re doing online.
Today we’re introducing Account Activity, a new feature in your Google Account. If you sign up, each month we’ll send you a link to a password-protected report with insights into your signed-in use of Google services.
Google calls it giving you more insight into your accounts with Google. Let’s call it what it really is. Since you need to be signed into these various accounts so the activity can be measured it is really just as much the chance for Google to have greater insight into their users’ activities as vice versa.
Here is a look (albeit a small one, sorry) at an Activity page.
By now we all get what Google needs to do with regard to learning more about their customers across their disparate platforms. It’s just getting old watching them make it sound like the true beneficiary is the Google user. In some ways that is true. But the crux of this is that Google needs all of their data in one reservoir rather than smaller ponds spread out all over the place. The only way to do that is to get users to unify their services in any way possible. This is just the latest attempt.
Good luck Google. This is not going to get any easier.