Katherine Mangu-Ward (holding down the fort at Megan Mcardle’s blog) sums it up well:
As it happens, we know how much people value their privacy: They’ll sell information about every prescription they fill at CVS — or every pint of Haagen Dazs at Safeway — in exchange for a steady infusion of $1 coupons. They’ll hand off information about the timing of their daily commute in exchange for a couple of minutes saved at a toll booth every day. They’ll let Amazon track their diaper and book purchases because they would rather not re-enter their credit card number every time they want to buy something.
In contrast to those seemingly paltry payoffs, I think people get a pretty decent bargain when they hand over their personal browsing, search, and email data to Google: powerful tailored search results, an elegant, efficient email management system, photo and document storage space of science-fictional proportions, and instant access to every otter video (and/or TED talk) of all time.
The price? Google does its darnedest to sell you stuff you would probably like to buy.
What bothers me about Google (and has bothered me for some time) is when they ensnare people who have done nothing to avail themselves of online services.