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demanbmore t1_jd2msoj wrote

Google offers a free version of many applications, but their paid version has more features and storage. The more Google gets its users to rely on the applications it provides, the greater the likelihood that more users will convert to a paid version when they need more features. Providing free applications also takes away market share from Microsoft, one of Google's biggest rivals in the workplace app space.


shitdayinafrica t1_jd2rcpt wrote

More than that - companies are more likely to use software their workers are familiar with. That is why Microsoft discounts "student" software.


samanime t1_jd2w64m wrote

Yeah, and not just Microsoft. Students can usually buy* software for tens of dollars a year what pros have to pay thousands a year for (like 3D/CAD software) because companies really want students used to their software vs their competitors.

  • It used to be buy, but now that everything is subscription-based, they're really only leasing it.

klrjhthertjr t1_jd2ybcz wrote

Yep, got solidworks for free in school through student design team, got pretty good at it, tried to switch to cheaper Cad software, gave up and paid solidworks 12k for software and 2k a year for maintenance.


nowake t1_jd391ri wrote

I started working for a small manufacturing company in 2014, and the previous guy at my chair was still using AutoCAD 2000i for the shop drawings. Not to mention, Windows XP. This was good enough for what it was for, but it was time for a revamp.

I requisitioned a new PC, a pair of monitors, and a perpetual license for Autodesk's design suite 2016. I was up and running.

Then, Autodesk got in touch with me repeatedly to update and upgrade to design suite 2017, 2018, and so on... none of which would have a perpetual license, but paid monthly or yearly. I was like "Nope! No need here!"

Updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and it was pretty difficult to retain the perpetual subscription. Pretty soon I wasn't able to run on my PC and my laptop, which was important as I'd started working from home more often.


klrjhthertjr t1_jd3ikzt wrote

The nice thing about solidworks is that it is a perpetual license, the Maintnence is just for yearly updates and dedicated phone and email support. I just need to keep updated because some of my clients stay of the most current version so I have to make sure my files are compatible.


LazyLich t1_jd36yff wrote

Damn... I remember when they were first trying to implement the subscription thing and thought it'd never take off.. "It's such a scam! People are just gonna use the older version until yall give up this stupid idea!"

I still don't know how they did it..

Thank god for google docs


samanime t1_jd37d3q wrote

A lot of people stayed on those old versions for a REALLY long time (some probably still are), but they just got too old for most so they had to cave in since it was the only real option.

Adobe isn't too bad. $60/mo for the master collection, which used to be $3k, so it is actually cheaper if you upgraded more than every 5 years.

3D/CAD software is crazy though. Some are priced as much as if you upgraded every year, or more, which nobody was doing.


brickmaster32000 t1_jd4sbtq wrote

>I still don't know how they did it..

Sinple, they didn't make it an option. If you can't buy the older version with the perpetual license you can't use it. Within piracy the companies can quarentee that the number of people on such licenses slowly decreases down to nothing.


CriticalNovel22 t1_jd37eml wrote

Yeah, because students become pros and spend thousands on the software they're familiar with because no one wants to relearn how to do things on new software.


SubstantialBelly6 t1_jd37ymc wrote

So they are grooming them, more or less, to use their software. And here I thought they offered student discounts to be nice 🫠


GsTSaien t1_jd2svsy wrote

Kind of. The market is not really there at the consumer level, google known no single person will pay for these features when free options are available. So they make their options free and as good as they can be so we rely on them. This makes the workforce have experience with their tools over others, so when a company needs to use something, they will prefer google services. Only a company needs to scale up, and so they pay for whatever they have to. It is cheaper to pay up whatever google asks than to train your workers on a different toolset every few years.


Epancho16 t1_jd31jdx wrote

I never knew there were paid for benefits in google docs, can you list a few?

I'm mainly a word user so I never spend more time than necessary in docs.


GsTSaien t1_jd333jd wrote

I think for docs it is mostly storage space, I think they are pretty tame in what they charge too, at least compared to other industry standard programs in their own fields.


5seat t1_jd35zjx wrote

Yeah, it's insanely cheap. I get 2 TB for 10 bucks a month.


samanime t1_jd2wh44 wrote

This is exactly it. In addition, it costs Google pennies per user (on the high-end) to give it for free, so it doesn't really cost them anything to give it for free to those who wouldn't pay otherwise, while also greatly increasing the likelihood that companies will pay them to use it for their businesses.

It's a win-win.


Boo_Ya_Ka_Sha_ t1_jd2y6hu wrote

Right. It’s just a sales strategy. It’s bait. Not google acting out of the kindness of their heart.

With that said, I love free stuff. Google docs came in super clutch in college.


Painting_Agency t1_jd32s50 wrote

> It’s bait. Not google acting out of the kindness of their heart.

IMO it's also free ongoing testing. They get to see how users interact with their software, as a LARGE aggregate. Very useful information.


CarneDelGato t1_jd361q8 wrote

Just to piggyback on this, a lot of the stuff that might be free for an individual is something a business pays for. For instance, my company pays to use gmail and the rest of the Google web suite (e.g. Hangouts, Drive) for most of its operations. When people already understand the set of tools, it makes it more attractive to the business, I.e. letting people use it for free is good marketing.


audiate t1_jd388j5 wrote

Plus it gets their tendrils into the every day lives of people. Call it an investment to intertwine their company with the basic functions of people’s lives in order to get them invested in the ecosystem, making it easy for them to go all-in on google services and difficult to switch to another service.


kimbosdurag t1_jd2r9tm wrote

It keeps you in their ecosystem, and if you find yourself using it a lot they charge you more for storage. They also make money from corporations using the suite of products for a fee companies will typically either use Gmail, GDrive, docs, slides, sheets, etc or use the Microsoft alternatives.

The more they can normalize their products over Microsoft the better.

I'm sure it adds to their data analytics capabilities but I'm not sure how it could be useful other than for internal reporting on product usage or upselling their own premium features.


Ieris19 t1_jd2u1ei wrote

Say Google wants to develop an AI that writes books right? So they need a lot of text written by humans to train it right? Well, Google Docs is full of that.

Microsoft and OpenAI did the same thing with coding AI’s. They’ve trained GPT3 on GitHub code to get AIs to write code.

Google’s business is advertising after all, so just like they could train an AI to write, imagine how much data they can collect and feed to algorithms about you to target ads that they know will sway you. It’s not necessarily that an employee at Google is reading your emails. Or that the government is spying on you to catch criminals. The issue is more that an algorithm/AI is learning all about you and honing itself to recommend what you will consume, and thus, generate clicks and money for them.


BelgianBeerGuy t1_jd2wcva wrote

>> Say Google wants to develop an AI that writes books right? So they need a lot of text written by humans to train it right? Well, Google Docs is full of that.

I don’t think Google wants to train an AI on all the crap I wrote in Google docs. Let alone all the spelling and grammar errors people make in those docs.
For an AI that can write books, they probably just use actual books.


Ieris19 t1_jd2wndl wrote

Read my other comment. I was more trying to make an example rather than something anyone would actually wanna do.

It was more about illustrating that the use we have for data is not necessarily the same one a company has for it.

Never said it had to be a successful AI, or a good idea


kimbosdurag t1_jd2ukbd wrote

Interesting I didn't think about that. It also wouldn't be tough for them to just scrape blogs and news sites, sites like Wattpad that host writing. Lots of data out there for the taking. I'm very curious to see how ai evolves from this point out as a consumer product.


Ieris19 t1_jd2vf0v wrote

That was more an example, rather than something they would actually do. Of course there is a million other ways of doing it, but the more control you have over the data, the better you can develop an AI.

I mean, Google’s already mastered AI. People tend to think of natural intelligence (like humans) when they think about the development of AI.

AI is just a learning system. Google recommendations are a complex calculation on everything that you’ve recently interacted with to figure out the thing most likely you’ll want next.

Unless the function is completely static, which I doubt, it would be considered AI, even if it doesn’t attempt to imitate real intelligence. The function is probably given some weights from Google engineers (basically, what results are valuable), and through trial and error, the program is likely learning how to get more clicks. The more data it can process, the more users it has to try with, the faster it can advance.

This is of course pretty simplistic compered to the math behind how this works, but it gets the point across


StateChemist t1_jd3aga6 wrote

There is some potential legal issues if you scrape someone else’s data to train your AI. If your users signed the ToS there is no legal recourse so they can use anything.


IdlyOverthink t1_jd373mj wrote

This speculation borders on misinformation. According to Google's privacy policy they have no access to content you've saved in Google drive except where required by law, or with your explicit permission.

I'm not trying to defend a big corporation; it's likely that Google is doing other questionably ethical things, but comments like this which point in patently false directions distract from the actually important transgressions.

This is entirely different from a model being trained on public GitHub code; it's not possible without Google making claims that opens themselves up to litigation. (Companies won't do this... There's no reason to make themselves financially vulnerable like that.)


Ieris19 t1_jd39bbu wrote

Again, that is mostly an example. Of course, it wouldn’t even be a good idea to begin with.

But people seem confused, so now my question is how would I make it more obvious that is just a simplified example


IdlyOverthink t1_jd3qa8e wrote

I think your point is that "Google likes having [the data in the services OP asks about] because it could mine that data."

Per their own site:

>We never use the content you create and store in apps like Drive, Gmail, and Photos for any ads purposes.

Here's their source for how they don't use it for training an ML model either.

I think I would choose a different example to support your point because it implies too many (false) conditions, and in doing so establishes a non-existent precedent.

>Of course, it wouldn’t even be a good idea to begin with.

This still entertains the premise that they'd try, and I think that's what I'm trying to address. It's not that it's not a good idea, it can't be an idea. Google has made commitments to making this impossible, so worrying about the ethics, whether it's worth the cost, whether it's a worthy source, etc is a distraction from the actual possibilities/answers.

As said by others, Google Drive is a gateway drug into Google's other services. Beacuse of that, it can be private even from Google because Google uses data from those other services to train their models, and provide ads data.

For example, when you're working on a research paper, Google can glean your area of study (adjacent to "your interests), your level of education (and more) from your search keywords, the time you're searching, etc.


Ieris19 t1_jd3r6in wrote

The fact they they currently don’t need to and the fact that they don’t plan to, doesn’t mean they can’t. They’re sitting on a huge stockpile of stuff they can use, and thinking a company will store my gigabytes of data for years on end and never delete it and not even use it in hopes to get me to use their other products is ridiculous. They’re clearly using it in one way or another, whichever that way turns out to be.

No one expected Microsoft to run the same shit on all their products yet here we are regardless.


alchippa t1_jd2yxlh wrote

Suppose I stored some code in GitHub, can anyone else just take it like that? Can GitHub use my code for training without my permission? Or did I already grant permission in their fine print?


Ieris19 t1_jd2z28i wrote

That is precisely why they’re getting sued. We’re not sure if it’s legal, ethical or how copyright applies since it’s not using your code but learning from it


Digital-Chupacabra t1_jd2mpbq wrote

The cost of them is your data, which Google then uses to better target ads.

Everyone of those services reports vast amounts of data back to Google, nor necessarily the actual content but all the other Metadata.

Remember Metadata is good enough for the militaries to use to make kill decisions.

edit To expand on this a bit, some of those tools were expressly created to get people to use them so that they could then sell them to companies, google suite is the prime example of that. This doesn't mean they don't suck up as much data as they can.

Remember if it's an online service and it's free the product is you!


Mission-Simple-5040 t1_jd2pzqk wrote

What's metadata?


allecher137 t1_jd2spmy wrote

Metadata is the data about the data. For example they might not read the numbers in your spreadsheet, but they know your IP, browser info, and times you are active online.


Burstar1 t1_jd2u7uy wrote

All the information it is possible to glean or infer from a file outside its actual contents. Things like:

File type, size, time and frequency of use (importance), the IP address/location of the user and anyone it has been shared with, the language it uses, etc...

Without even a database of all your data, it is possible to look at a large spreadsheet file and make an educated guess whether or not it is an important file whose user is educated, Western (based on language preference) and likely middle-aged (Excel vs. Google Spreadsheet), who is using it for budgeting or database purposes (based on size and frequency of use).


Vingdent t1_jd2tzuc wrote

the google analytics algorithms build a library of metadata on your content that tells them things like your income level, what your drive, places you visit, businesses you frequent, subscriptions and memberships you have, ailments you might suffer from, credit level, family size. basically anything it can glean from what you give it.

The data is stored in an “anonymized” state without your actual name or other personally identifiable info, but that’s a bit moot because they can usually identify you but your metadata fingerprint anyway and link it to you at will.


MoogTheDuck t1_jd315dh wrote

What you're describing isn't really metadata, it's the outcomes/process by which google anaylzes data/metadata.


Digital-Chupacabra t1_jd2srea wrote

Data about data. A simple example is with a photo, when it was taken, where it was taken, by what camera etc.


BrunoBraunbart t1_jd2tmou wrote

Data about data. For example, when you make a survey, the actual answers are the data and the information about the person (gender, age, ...) could be considered metadata.

In this case they mean metadata in files. For example, when you take a picture, the actual pixel information is the data and other stuff (location, time the picture was taken, phone model, exposure time, ...) is the metadata.


JCDU t1_jd32qc1 wrote

Data about what you do, who you communicate with, when & where you are, what devices you use, the sites you visit, it's a huge and terrifying list.

Also, since it's doing the rounds today:

How about identifying you even in incognito mode?


BurtMacklin-FBl t1_jd36n6y wrote

It's only "terrifying" if you don't know what it actually is.


JCDU t1_jd3clfj wrote

If you don't think the level of tracking & data collection online is terrifying you haven't understood the scale of the problem.


gatorbeetle t1_jd3bvvg wrote

EXACTLY THIS!!! With Google YOU are the product. They farm every little bit of your data they can get, and sell it, or use it to make more money. Google is an information/data company that got into the software and eventually hardware business


Gnonthgol t1_jd2pnmd wrote

Just a note about them using the data. They might not use the data directly as you say. However it is quite likely that they use the data in some indirect way. In the modern way it would be fed to some sort of AI algorithm, and although this AI might not be allowed to disclose the data directly it can still answer questions based on this data. Maybe not so much to non-paying customers but Google does provide a lot of expensive technologies to companies which might be more liberal with other customers data then you expect.


Electrical_Money1132 t1_jd2mrui wrote

Google may not be after your actual content, but they'll gladly sell your Metadata to the highest bidder...hopefully it's not your mother-in-law.


munchi333 t1_jd2vc4o wrote

They don’t actually sell your data to anyone: they sell access to you as a persona to advertise to.

Selling your data would defeat the entire purpose.


sloppyredditor t1_jd2tm2y wrote

This is the correct answer. Their business model is massive data aggregation and sale to marketers. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see some of it in marginal ads (especially in Chrome).


jaimonee t1_jd2tfjf wrote

Just wanted to add one more layer, and this literally happened to me yesterday. Last yearI signed up for a pro account to get the extra storage. It's relatively inexpensive, maybe $3 a month for 100GB. I decided not to renew yesterday but had 75gb of storage used. When the pro expired I was locked out of all Google suite services, including Gmail, until I got my storage under 15GB. Seeing I needed to send emails out and get work done, I was handcuffed into renewing the pro version. I am now dependent on it, so I gotta pay them.


Interesting_Suspect9 t1_jd2twdu wrote

This happened to me a couple of years back too; They're so sneaky with it. I even tried to migrate from Google to iCloud, but that process is soo exhautive, and now I've ended up with both apple and google drive monthly plans :/


paaaaatrick t1_jd38tse wrote

Pretty cool that they don’t delete your data though, that would really suck


RemainingLeftover t1_jd2u6z2 wrote

Just read "The Surveillance Economy" and all your questions will be answered.

Google knows more about you that you will ever know. So even in the free version, you are paying with a lot of your personal data.


[deleted] t1_jd2vxof wrote



CinnamonSniffer t1_jd35xww wrote

I read about an example of this back in the day. I can’t recall any of the fine details so go ahead and don’t believe me, but I recall some engineer used the Google suite while developing some novel way to do something with cars and then Google shortly thereafter announced the same feature coming to android auto, then some novel idea he had about an engine or something suddenly ended up on the Chinese market. Could just be coincidence since that sort of thing happens all the time, but after I graduated high school I’ve consciously avoided the G Suite for anything other than polls for my movie watching club

E; the 2nd story is more of a cautionary tale against cloud services in general. Again who knows if either is true


BurtMacklin-FBl t1_jd37bpy wrote

You actually believe this? That someone actually goes through your google docs, reads them and steals ideas that they sell to China? When people say Google uses your data, that's not what they mean.


melli_milli t1_jd2v4px wrote

My Uni has Google license for every student and teacher. Everything lies on Google Class, Mail, Sheet, Slide, Meet


urzu_seven t1_jd2vsmw wrote

There’s a few reasons

  1. They gather data about you and use it with their other products to target more ads.
  2. They have paid versions of these services (for institutions and individuals) as well, which means they already have to build and maintain them. Adding a more basic, free tier likely costs than a fraction of what they make from paid users.
  3. They hope it will entice you to upgrade to the paid versions.
  4. They hope to take market share and users away from their competition and even if it costs them money they make it up elsewhere.
  5. They want you to use more of their services both because of the reason I mentioned in item 1, but also because it makes it more likely you’ll buy their products like Google Home, Android phones, Chromebooks, etc. because they can more tightly integrate those services in with their devices and offer better experiences.

fatbunyip t1_jd345ej wrote

The same way restaurants and bars give free nuts, chips, popcorn, breadsticks etc.

It's a way to keep you coming back. And each time you use their products they have a chance to upsell you, show you ads, you might like the product so you subscribe to get better features.

That's also why they work so hard to make all their products work well together. So even if you use one product, it's very easy when you need something to use another of their products without going to a competitor (eg opening an email attachment in google docs not in ms word)


melanthius t1_jd34x4x wrote

Google also seems to offer products for free (I think they are free… correct me if wrong) to schools, which is sorta a public service, but also indoctrinates younger people into continuing to use google products into adulthood.


PushNotificationsOff t1_jd350e3 wrote

Few reasons

  1. While google does have free versions of this software they offer google workplace to companies who pay for more, features, and security. Allowing people to use it free makes more conversions for their paid software.

  2. It forces you to use chrome. Since google docs features work best in Chrome most people keep using to to have the best google doc experience. Again taking market share from competitors.

  3. A google account is a google account. All your data is centralized and keep you coming to them for all your needs. No matter if it’s email, cell phone, speaker, youtube, docs or any one of googles many free products.

  4. Putting it all together : The value to google is you being there and using their products. Google makes it money on ads and anything the shows you ads is great. But anything that collects data on you to show targeted and and make targeted ad campaigns is even better. Other companies are willing to pay huge money for that information to target the exact person they think will buy their products. All of googles free products are paid for by the worth of your personal data they collect.


Ribbythinks t1_jd37grg wrote

If you like using one of these tools outside of work, you may do the following:

  1. Be more likely to apply for jobs that list them as tools

  2. Be more likely to advocate for the use of them at your workplace

Both of these scenarios eventually lead to a sales person getting a meeting with a decision maker


Ingich t1_jd37twk wrote

Google is company for collecting information to sell for advertisors. Usually you use google account for all these utility softwares and sum of your activities, preferences and interests goes in unique customer id. That id then can be targeted with very specific ads that with high likelyhood will turn into purchase of some product.


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Big_carrot_69 t1_jd3a2zu wrote

Subsidiaries, the way amazon makes money..! Believe it or not, amazon doesn't make any money, actually they make a loss every year! But they make billions from their subsidiaries.


gavco98uk t1_jd2rfh1 wrote

The main reason google does it is to make computing cheaper andmore accessible to the masses.

The vast majority of googles money comes from online advertising. To increase revenue here, they have two options - grow their market share, or increase the size of market.

Google chose the latter - they grow the market by making computing more affordable to everyone. produce free browsers, produce free word processor tools etc. Overall it drives down the price of a new PC, making it more accessible to the masses, and therefore delivering more eyeballs to the web.

It's also why google is such a heavy investor in web technologies - make the internet easier to use and more people will use it.

Premium versions of the products are just a bonus.


Emotional-Self-3931 t1_jd30ty2 wrote

The fact Google provides docs for free and is online is the online reason I use gdrive subscription for my college


Important_Database14 t1_jd34z2s wrote

Ecosystem and other reasons are mentioned already in comments.

One more I would add to that would be, providing these services and making huge number of users depend on it and habituate them to use it. Later in life it is impossible for people to learn new similar tool as they are already use to this and work can be done. In case, there is enough data that the individual won't think to migrate outside then they can charge for service and increase it subsequently.

Later it becomes hard for other competition to stay in market because user cannot let go this service and switch to new.


tgjames01 t1_jd35zb6 wrote

If it’s a free service/product, the user is the currency. Data is more valuable than oil now.