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Poll Shows Users Gaga for Google, Turned Off by Twitter

Poll Shows Users Gaga for Google, Turned Off by Twitter

A recent poll asked U.S. consumers their overall opinions of four big tech brands: Facebook, Apple, Google and Twitter. Despite controversies involving user privacy, Google was a the clear winner, earning a favorable opinion from four out of five respondents. Twitter brought up the rear. "I suspect mass audiences don't quite know what [Twitter] is good for," said GigaOM Pro's David Card.

By Rachelle Dragani
04/10/12 10:44 AM PT

Google can claim the title as the most popular tech brand over competitors Apple, Facebook and Twitter, according to a new poll from ABC and The Washington Post.

Eighty-two percent of Americans said they have an overall favorable opinion of the search engine giant. Apple didn't come in far behind -- 74 percent of those polled said they see it favorably. When asked if they have a "strongly" favorable opinion about the companies, Google also came out ahead -- 53 percent of those polled said they have a strong fondness for the Mountain View company, compared to 37 percent for Apple.

Social media didn't come in quite as high on the favorability rankings as Apple and Google. Fifty-eight percent of those polled gave Facebook a favorable opinion. Twitter was by far the brand with the least amount of love -- just 34 percent said they had a favorable opinion of the social network, and 36 weighed in saying their opinion is negative.

Generational differences were more apparent when it comes to social media. About a third of seniors view both Facebook and Twitter negatively. Google and Apple also did better among the younger crowd, although not by quite as steep a margin. They also polled better among highly educated and affluent Americans.

Internet = Google

The poll was conducted on 1,007 adults between March 28 and April 1 of this year. Despite taking plenty of heat for its new privacy policies during that time, Google still maintained the highest level of favorability among the four major tech brands. That's because regardless of its current privacy issues, the Internet without Google is unthinkable to many users, according to Nathan Gilliatt, principal at Social Target.

"Google's popular because it makes the Internet useful," he told TechNewsWorld. "Without a good search engine, people couldn't find what they want, and Google's the one most people use."

In fact, said Larry Cornett, founder and CEO of Brilliant Forge, many users go to Google to navigate to a specific site, such as typing "eBay" into a Google search bar, even if they know the website URL is ebay.com. Google is also the provider of plenty of Web products now integral to the Internet experience.

"For many, Google is the Web,"Cornett told TechNewsWorld. "Plus, Google offers a ton of useful free services, which endears them to people: YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs, etc."

For users taking so much advantage of all Google has to offer, privacy concerns take a back seat to having ease and convenience on the Web, especially when it's not easily visible what information Google, or any other Web company, has on a user.

"I think the average person doesn't really understand how the privacy issues impact them, or they don't believe that they have much to 'hide,' such as their search history," said Cornett.

As long as companies such as Google own up to the mistakes they make when promising to deliver security, Google can maintain that high user favorability, said David Card, vice president of research at GigaOM Pro.

"When you ask consumers, they say they value their privacy highly, but then the don't usually act that way," Card told TechNewsWorld.

Becoming More Social

Facebook is another Web entity that has taken heat for its constantly evolving privacy and security concerns. However, the poll suggests that the social network still has a relatively high favorability opinion, especially among the younger crowd.

"Although Facebook has vocal critics, its adoption and heavy usage would imply it hasn't chased many users away," said Card. "I suspect they get what they expect from Facebook and find it a useful communications and photo-sharing utility."

While some users threaten to leave because of privacy concerns, many have found workarounds, said Cornett, rather than abandoning the site altogether. For instance, teens might create fake accounts if their parents are snooping on Facebook, and job searchers might also create a separate account if they want to look better in the eyes of a potential employer.

"People have not accepted the privacy risks; they have simply found ways to deal with it by creating decoy accounts and blocking people," he said.

One social network that hasn't quite caught up on favorability is Twitter. The site, with its brief 140-character blurbs, has dedicated users but apparently hasn't attracted the affections of a more mainstream crowd to the same degree as the other companies the survey check up on.

"Twitter isn't quite mainstream yet, and I suspect mass audiences don't quite know what it's good for," said Card.


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