The New York Times recently wrote about the power of “Apps That Know What You Want, Before You Do.” These predictive apps are likened to virtual, personal assistants. They’re waiting on and for you. All they ask in return is some data about you.
The article takes a keen eye towards Google Now. This Google product can “answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions” (Wiki). With the goal of being your intelligent, predictive assistant, Google Now is installed and ready for use on all Android phones running version 4.1 and newer.
I’m not a technological caveman, but I question this development. There are sacrifices we make to give our smartphones all this data. Despite Google’s desire to innovate, it’s important to remember the purpose behind it: ad revenue.
Google’s entire business model is based on finding and publishing advertising. The multi-billion dollar industry feeds off the personalized data we voluntarily share with the company. They’ve made products and offerings that cater to user, make it easy to interact, and fun to continue. Before you know it, you’ve shared more than you know.
As the collection of details metastasizes, you can become the product. Now, Google and any other predictive tech company can better target advertising to you. This is a serious budgetary vulnerability if people are exposed to more relevant advertising.
While Google Now and its brethren may not profit directly from the app, the data behind the scenes is very real. Predictive apps are growing in popularity (e.g., IFTTT, Siri, Osito). But an alarm should be sounding: You need to consider the budgetary consequences of targeted advertising that’s only getting better.
Read more about my thoughts on Privacy vs Frugality on PTMoney.com.