Is it just them or does everything have to be cleansed? Credit- Google

Hal Varian has made some cogent points about digital economics. Not wholly certain that all of the following is quite so obviously true but there are some interesting points made.

Google Android case: Milestone or millstone?

Hal Varian 13 August 2018

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Google does not offer anything “for free.” Google understands the value of its engineered products and expects to receive value for them — in kind. Generally, what it receives is control over the information and the future choices of third parties, such as its business partners’ customers. Google is huge, and this gives it many benefits. Mr. Varian shows that customers want the same search engine on all their devices. But he also argues that customers want not to have to futz with things, which undercuts his argument that selection of the default engine is no big deal. Incidentally, Google… Read more »


When I bought my car there was already a radio in it! Shock horror! Is the EU demanding that cars be supplied without radios?


Moreover, if you buy a GM vehicle, the radio will always be a GE (“Delco”) radio, and nearly no one wants to futz with dropping in a Blaupunkt, let alone a Hyundai radio. This analogy was used, at the turn of the century, to illustrate the idiocy of the US suing Microsoft for bundling in Internet Explorer.

Chester Draws
Chester Draws

Spike, if Google offers nothing for free, why have I got a phone with Google features for which I have not paid anything?

Yes, the pre-loaded ones may — may — have been implicitly paid for by the manufacturer.

But I have also got ones that I downloaded without paying a cent.

Sure they are using my data to make money, but the service is free. Just as my community newspaper is free, paid for by adverts. Or a radio station is free to users.

That someone else is paying doesn’t stop it being free to users.


I am certainly not claiming that every person receives a bill for every service he benefits from, or for every tax he pays. And I have argued that it would generally be better (at least, more open) if the end-user did see the bill or were involved in that transaction. But Google obviously wants control over your personal information and future decisions. You acknowledge this but seem to claim that the fact that you don’t tender cash to Google makes a difference; I claim it doesn’t. You are not getting away with something, by virtue of being kept in the… Read more »