The Web abounds with conspiracy theories, like the guy who thinks Comcast is sabotaging its own DNS servers to limit our contact with secondhand Chinese furniture sellers. For the last decade and a half, most of our tech-oriented secret plots were aimed at ultrarich Microsoft or scheming telecom giants. Those petty thinkers have been eclipsed. When it comes to the dark shadow of the Illuminati, they've been passed over for Google.
Check your geek headlines any day of the week, and Google's name will be there ... somehow. But the headlines always seem to lack a cohesive strategy. This week, for example, we learned that Google is buying into a mobile game console controller, its fiber service is gathering steam, it's investing in an online credit service, and it's apparently building a Big Brother-style municipal surveillance silo in Oakland, Calif.
They can't be part of the same plan, right? I mean, it's grown so big that the left Google can't possibly know what the right Google is doing, correct? News flash: That's exactly what the company would have you believe.
I can now reveal that after at least one hour of intense investigative journalism fueled by dedication and scotch while bravely using Google's own search engine against the company, I've been able to discern a method to Google's madness, a clear line that leads directly to Google's endgame. It's the mother of all conspiracy theories: Google wants to own it all, starting with you.
It began with the simple benevolence of tracked search and a slogan sign, now pockmarked with virtual bullets that read "Don't be evil." Was it evil to turn tracked search into Google Ads and Google Analytics? That's for future, post-Googlepocalypse generations (if they exist) to decide. But it established an engine whereby Google knows what you're looking for, moves you toward more of the same, and offers merchants a crack at us -- though, merchants and customers alike, we're all pawns in Google's grid.
That's a short and natural hop to e-tailing, and Google jumped in immediately, developing shopping technology alongside its search empire. Witness Google Wallet, Google Catalogs, and most recently Credit Karma, soon to be renamed Google Credit (probably). The timeline might be off, but these plots are constantly evolving -- and why screw up a perfectly good rant with precise information anyway?
From e-tail, it's an easy leap to content: Google News, Google Finance, YouTube, and the rest -- bread and circuses, albeit bread and circuses as programmed by Google. That proceeds today with what looks like a push into console gaming. Which games do you like? Check. Where are you buying them now? Check. Can we sell them to you instead? Check. Where are you playing them and can we own that, too? Check.
Google knew us in the abstract, but it needed direct, firsthand, brain stem access. It set its sights on what we're working on; what we're writing to friends and family; what we're talking about; and what files and data we've squirreled away on our computers. Enter Google Apps, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Voice, and the seemingly unavoidable G+. Now Google had access to all of it, from our love notes to our vacation photos to our phone calls with Mom. It's all part of the database and about as benign as dropping a kitten in a Cuisinart.
A wrinkle arose when consumers started moving away from PCs and onto mobile devices -- a new platform with new interfaces, new content formats, and a new app model. We definitely need to own that, Google cried, and let's not stop at top-level software. Let's drill down to the silicon and develop a mobile OS and offer our own hardware: phones, netbooks, USB dongles. We'll not only influence all mobile users in some way, we'll have a huge and growing swath of them where it counts.
But Google can't glean dreams from fingertips. Let's strap an industrial device directly to their heads. Thus, Google Glass was born. It knows where you are; it knows whom you're talking to and in what language; it knows what pictures you're snapping; it knows when you've been bad or good; and it knows when you are sleeping. Santa works for Google now.
Luddites, get in line
You may ask: "But what about folks who are still off the Web or can't afford Cylon headgear?" Easy fix, we'll bring the Internet to them through Google Fiber. If that doesn't work, we'll use powerline technology to track them through their fuse boxes via our new, benevolently named Google Energy division. Burning wood in upstate Vermont? No problem, we'll co-opt the technology we developed in conjunction with the U.S. and European intelligence community (military-industrial complex to you hardcore theorists) and track your backward, hillbilly butts via Googlesats, which power Google Earth and Google Maps. Whew, all bases covered.
To govern the growing empire, Google would need a lot of secured manpower and infrastructure, preferably based in a slick-looking, isolated, and secure site that could easily secede from the Union to form its own techno-corporate state unburdened by the U.S. legal code, morality, and marriage conventions. Up went the Area 51-style Googleplex, equipped with housing, human testing labs, and hidden, Maginot-line machine gun nests.
But the nearby populace cramped Google's style, so an idea was born: Why not buy the town? Bit by bit, Google's real estate and municipal interests consumed Mountain View and spread around the bay, all the way to Oakland, now subject to real-time population and activity monitoring. Google had an eye on San Francisco too offering a fleet of Toyota Priuses to ferry Whole Foods snacks around town behind Google Shopping Express's socially acceptable veneer. Meanwhile, corporate-owned, isolationist buses whisked Googlers to work with the goal of never letting them leave the compound, lest they be poisoned with non-shuttled citizens' subversive thoughts.
There it is: a clear path to total worldwide domination radiating outward from Northern California. With this nefarious plot, Google owns you, me, and, more important, politicians from world leaders down to the local constabulary -- anyone with even a shred of power or influence.
Beyond the Googledome
If you're one of the few remaining rebel fighters sitting in an unmarked, unconnected, no-power cave wearing a tinfoil hat and writing your True Non-Googled Account of History for future generations with charcoal pencil by earwax candlelight, while occasionally talking to trees, Google will leave you alone for now. But as soon as the technology is semi-stable, a Google drone will strafe your Oregon yurt and a grinning Googlebot will drag you kicking and screaming to a black site re-indoctrination center masquerading as one of the new Google retail outlets.
Take that Satya, Tim, and all you other small-time billionaire hicks: It's a brave, new, Googleworld.
This story, "Google? Evil? You have no idea" was originally published by InfoWorld.