Google ramps up its data portability as a weapon push

Will data portability ultimately win over consumers? Google thinks so, but it's too early to tell.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google on Tuesday said that Google Voice users will be able to export data---call history, voice mail and the like---in its latest effort to use portability of information as a winning sales pitch.

The search giant solidified its data liberation pitch when it launched Google+ and Google Voice is just the latest product to be added to the mix. The so-called Data Liberation Front boils down to this:

The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product. We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to "liberate" their products.

Notice the positioning. Google goes for the open data exporting riff against Facebook, which allows you to download your information, but the process is a bit clunky. You see where this Google push is going. The company will quietly roll out new services for data backup. Google Voice today. YouTube tomorrow. Ultimately, all of your content on Google will be downloaded.

What's unclear is whether users care about data liberation, which is important when you want to leave a service. However, if you're a happily captive customer---like many folks on Facebook---Google's data portability argument will fall flat.

Indeed, I haven't heard of anyone---at least among non-techies---clamoring for a data takeout service. Clearly Google Takeout is a nice to have, but is it a death blow to other services? Probably not.

However, this data liberation effort is a good best practice to follow. If Google can get things that really matter to the average bear---notably those videos of your kids on YouTube---prepped for backup it may have a winning effort in the long run.


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