It used to be that Google made tools. However, Google is now linking all of their tools together, and the glue is a user's identity. This is not entirely surprising. Since the company makes money putting targeted ads in front of users, this is a reasonable strategy. However, I do think that Google is fast approaching the point-of-no-return on this path. Once every Google service has been wrapped in Google+ functionality, it will be strategically, psychologically, and technically difficult for the company to separate them. For that reason, I think this is a very important point for Google, and for every one that uses the web.
I think this is unfortunate. Google is a vibrant company with a history of taking chances and experimentation. Every Google service will now be judged and developed in light of this service unification: some approaches won't be tried, some functionality will be required, and some functionality not allowed.
Privacy issues aside, it remains to be seen whether or not the internet works better as a landscape of fragmented anonymity, or as a unified place where you are always known. Personally, my offline life is fragmented. For example, no one but my wife knows where I was this evening. There is no record of it. I wouldn't feel comfortable if that weren't an option.
I am not saying that Google will become the only way to use the internet. However, I do believe that in time, Google will only occupy the 'non-anonymous' part of the internet. Unfortunately, this also means that they might not be interested in defending the non-anonymous part.
It's my prediction that new services will begin to fill the anonymous spaces that Google leaves behind. At least, I hope that this is the case.
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