Ken Auletta: Ominous Clouds
When Gmail went down yesterday afternoon, I called Ken Auletta, who has written about Google for The New Yorker and whose book about the company, “Googled: The End of The World As We Know It,” will be out this fall, to see how he was holding up. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.
Gmail isn’t working. How are you handling it?
I feel like I’m stranded back in the twentieth century. Gmail has been down at least a couple of times before, and YouTube has been down a couple of times in the past twelve months. This is a menace to Google in the future.
Why is it a “menace”?
Google is betting heavily on something called “cloud computing”—the belief that you won’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive software packages from companies like Microsoft, and instead let Google give you free e-mail and apps and all other kinds of services that they will store on their “cloud.” It will be free, it will be portable, and you’ll have access to it anytime you want on any device. That’s a wonderful idea, abstractly. It’s a twenty-first century idea, abstractly.
But if Gmail goes down, it inevitably undermines that trust that consumers need in order for cloud computing to work. If I don’t trust that I can access my e-mail, documents, or schedule in the Google cloud whenever I want, then I’m going to stay with packaged software. That is the danger of what happened today to a company like Google.
WHAT DOES STYLEZ THINK?
That is what Stylez thinks, what do you think?