If you’ve ever seen The Insider starring Russell Crowe you know the story of Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, the whistleblower’s whistleblower. Dr. Wigand worked for one of the Big Tobacco companies (Brown & Williamson) to help them perfect nicotine addiction. He eventually couldn’t take it anymore and went public with his inside knowledge.
Dr. Wigand identified cigarettes as a “delivery device” and his former employer Brown & Williamson as being in the nicotine delivery business. In Wigand’s 60 Minutes interview, Mike Wallace described the process:
Dr. Wigand says that Brown & Williamson manipulates and adjusts that nicotine fix, not by artificially adding nicotine, but by enhancing the effect of the nicotine through reuse of chemical additives like ammonia, whose process is known in the tobacco industry as “impact boosting.”
Of course one of the problems with addictive behaviors is that the people who need the information most are the ones least disposed to hear the truth…because they’re addicted.
So it is with smartphones, and particularly Google’s Android. As is well-documented now, smartphones are a key element in the behavioral addiction which many believe (and studies back this up) is just as addictive as substance addiction like nicotine. Ever notice the similarities between the little Android R2D2 and Joe Camel?
That’s right–smartphones are a “delivery device” for the dopamine rush at the core of the addiction. In Google’s case, Android smartphones are the gateway delivery device for loosening user inhibitions about giving up their private information to Google.
So how to enhance that addiction, how to make it “impact boosting” like Brown & Williamson’s chemical additives? One way is with music, the ultimate honeypot for data scraping. And that data is so valuable and the addictive properties of music are so pervasive that Google is willing to risk a lot to get as much of it as they can as fast as they can.
Including distorting copyright exceptions into loopholes that Congress never intended and in the case of fair use really have no precedents. Fair use is at the core of Google’s commercial intentions, and at a massive scale.
Fair use gets them content, content gets them addiction, and Android gets them Google accounts that they can use for very precise data profiling and aggregation. So Google’s fair use concepts are transformative alright, if you think Dr. Frankenstein transformed the monster.
It’s easy to understand why Android is so important to Google’s business. It’s a delivery device. And if you don’t think it’s true, check yourself for “cellphone vibration disorder.”