I got a message from Verizon the other day warning me that I had burned through my cellular internet bandwidth for the month, which I thought was odd, but not too odd insofar as I had been traveling quite a bit. Then this morning, I ran across an article from the folks at ZDNet (what, once-upon-a-time, we called “Ziff-Davis” as the publisher of PC Magazine and similar periodicals) that warned about the Google News app burning through data. One user claimed to have incurred as much as $240 in excess usage charges because of the Google News app.
I checked my own phone, my beloved Samsung Note9, and lo and behold what did I find but that my surplusage which will benefit Verizon’s financial bottom line indeed did come mostly from the Google New app, which from October 1 to the date of the writing of this article, October 23, had burned through an incredible 2.62 gigabytes of data.
This isn’t just me being a newsbug, since I probably look at Politico, TheHill, and CNET more than the Google News app, and of those the first two didn’t make the heavy usage list at all, and CNET, which did, checked in with a paltry .31 gigs of usage. What the heck is going on here?
Okay, it’s obviously a major screwup by somebody at Google. But the bigger question that arises is whether Google is destined to become another Microsoft, i.e., a formerly quality and innovative company that now seems to be mired deeply in tech mediocrity and can’t seem to even get basic updates right (and don’t even get me started on how Microsoft screwed up LinkedIn, pretty much as John Dvorak predicted they would do). The Redmond company that was once famous for quality software is now increasingly infamous for its crapware.
TheOnion’s satire about various of Google’s projects is funny because it is also substantially true. While Google has certainly done a lot of great things as a company, it has also in recent years thrown not just a few wild pitches, such as the infamous Google Plus which was recently shut after it was revealed that the personal information of some of its users had been compromised.
The problem with every large company is that eventually bureaucracy takes over, management is increasingly dominated by marginally competent loyalists to a few marginally competent power players, malaise sets in, and the company becomes as efficient as something the Soviet Politiburo would run. If you don’t believe that this is true, just ask GE.
The cure for this malaise is tough but effective: Identify the 50 most powerful people within the organization and for each of those the three people most loyal to them, and fire them. Then institute a true meritocracy where the talent bubbles to the top, and the dead weight slithers out the door and hopefully lands a job with your competitors. Nobody of course actually does this, because the folks who would have to make this decision would usually be the first to be carrying their banker boxes of personal effects out the door.
Okay, this is a long rant to say “de-install the Google News app” before your wireless carrier hits you with excess usage charges too. But it did cause me to start thinking about how good of a company Google really is, and it should make you wonder too. I actually love Google, love their search engines, and love their apps.
But I once loved Microsoft too.
Oh, and: Dear Google, Could you please contact Verizon and take care of that excess usage charge for me? It’s the least you can do.
This article at https://goo.gl/oJ3EYi