Poll: Are Google users the customer or the commodity being sold?

TechRepublic member Neon Samurai believes Google users are no more than a commodity to be sold to advertisers. Do you agree?

In a recent article by Kevin Purdy published in the Google in the Enterprise Blog, A practical argument for a Google Drive product, TechRepublic member Neon Samurai was concerned about the viability of Google-provided personal cloud storage. This part of his comment is what caught my attention:

"Google's core business is advertising. We are not the customer; we are the commodity being sold. If google provides hosted storage, they will do so in the same way they provide other services; with full transparency into the user's data."

That got me thinking. I know Google uses data gleaned from users to help direct their advertising assets and I accept that as the cost of using Google Apps, but even with that reality, I always considered myself a Google customer. Perhaps I should not make that assumption.

If I really am a mere commodity in Google's eyes, that would help explain the lack of "customer service" I have experienced from the company recently. Can Google really afford service to one kernel of corn inside a silo full of kernels? What do you think? Do you consider yourself a Google customer and more importantly, do you think Google treats you as a customer?

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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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