But other observers say Google is only positioning itself to compete with other online companies that already have a host of data about users -- like Facebook, which knows people's interests as well as their social contacts, or Apple, which knows what material iPhone and iPad users purchase.
Google itself says it will use the additional data to personalize its services -- though the examples provided by the company seem less than compelling. “We can provide more relevant ads,” Whitten says in her blog post. “For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you.”
This statement is particularly odd. Don't individuals who aren't “gym people” join health clubs in January because they hope to become gym people?
Whitten's next example is equally puzzling: “We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day.”
Somehow, it doesn't seem likely that too many users will appreciate having Google nag them about running late.