A week without Google

I tried to live for a week without using Google products, however I can now report that I failed miserably! I failed because both my personal life and my work were completely dependent on these products. For some products, the switching costs were high, for some low and for some there is just no alternative. The list is below and describes my personal experience of a week in hell.

Google Campus, 2012

Android

Chosen Alternative: iPhone, iOS.

This one was easy, and hey! lots of people use iPhones.

Switching cost: moderate (contacts, UX).

Search

Chosen Alternative: Bing (including image search).

No live search but other than that I could barely tell the difference.

Switching cost: low.

Email

Chosen Alternative: Yahoo! Mail (of course there are other options).

So i’m not sure if setting up a new email and forwarding from my old address is considered cheating. Yahoo! Mail is not that bad and actually not that different from Gmail. However, my social identity changed completely. When you tell people your address is x@yahoo.com the reaction is always - Why? Do work at Yahoo? (although Yahoo! employees go by @yahoo-inc.com)

Switching cost: low, unless you consider email forwarding cheating. If so - Switching cost: impossible.

Calendar

Chosen Alternative: Yahoo! Calendar

Works just fine, it’s actually quite beautiful. I’m used to sharing my calendar with others who use Google Calendar so that was a problem but other than that, no complaints.

Switching cost: low.

Maps

Chosen Alternative: OS X Maps. I also tried Bing Maps but couldn’t find any location I was looking for, not to mention directions.

Apple maps is an application on OS X with no web interface but I did not let that stop me. The application is very basic but functions OK. There was no information about public transportation where I live.

Switching cost: moderate.

Navigation

Chosen Alternative: iOS Maps.

I would have chosen Waze but that is considered a Google product.

iOS Maps navigation is surprisingly good. User experience might be even better than Google Navigate. I still prefer Waze though…

Switching cost: low.

Street view

Chosen Alternative: None.

Nothing is nearly as good and with the same coverage as Google Street View. There’s Bing Streetside but in terms of coverage it will take a competitor a really long time to catch up, if someone even plans to try.

Google Docs

Chosen Alternative: Zoho

It doesn’t really matter how good the alternative is, our entire office collaboration docs and sheets are based on Google Docs. Moving or proxying the data in some way is just too damn “expensive”.

Switching cost: FAIL.

Chat

Chosen Alternative: Whatsapp.

Everyone around me uses Whatsapp, which would probably not been the case if I had lived in the US. Now with the new Whatsapp web interface this was a no brainer.

Switching Cost: Zero.

International Calls

Chosen Alternative: Skype

I also use Google Hangouts for international calls and not just for chat. Moving to Skype was fairly easy and it had every single feature. Skype is very clunky and really takes a long time to load.

Switching Cost: Low.

Google Plus

Just kidding….

Google Drive (Excluding docs)

I prefer Dropbox anyway…

YouTube

Chosen Alternative: It’s complicated.

There are alternatives to YouTube. The problem was not uploading a video or using one service or another. The problem was that almost all videos that were shared with me (excluding Facebook and Whatsapp) were on YouTube. I just had to restrain myself from watching these videos!

Switching Cost: Impossible.

Notes

I use Google keep for my notes and it’s one of my personal favorites.

Chosen Alternative: Evernote.

I never really got the idea of Evernote and why it is so successful. Why would you need such a powerful tool for such a simple task.

After giving it another week - still didn’t get it…

Switching Cost: Low.

Website Analytics

I’m referring of course to Google Analytics. This one I used at work quite heavily.

Chosen Alternative: Piwik Analytics

You would not believe what I’ve been through to test this one. And on top of that, all Google Analytics alternatives are paid solutions.

Switching Cost: Don’t even try.

Chrome

Chosen Alternative: Firefox.

I could have chosen Safari and that would probably provide a closer experience to Chrome but I chose Firefox for the sake of the experiment. After I got used to the interface it is almost just as good but probably slower (I did not really benchmark).

HOWEVER for developers, any debugging or dev tools other than Chrome was just a nightmare.

Switching Cost: Casual use - low, developers - very high.

Other products

Other products include: Chromecast, Google Fit, Google Wallet, Google Music, Google Books, Google Translate,Google Finance and more. I did not feel not using these products had any impact on my life. Switching was just too easy and did not take any effort.

Conclusion

After a week of experimenting with different products I’m back to using every single one of the products above. Google - I just can’t live without you.