Google said Tuesday it will require users to allow the company to follow their activities across e-mail, search, YouTube and other services, a radical shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices.

The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes.

The changes comes as Google is facing stiff competition and recently disappointed investors for the first time in several quarters, failing last week to meet earnings expectations. Apple, perhaps its primary rival, is expected to announce strong earnings Tuesday.

Google’s changes are appeared squarely aimed at Apple and Facebook, which have been successful in keeping people in their ecosystem of products. Google, which makes money by selling ads tailored to its users, is hoping to do the same by offering a Web experience tailored to personal tastes.

“If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering wrote in a blog post.

“In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” she said.

Continue reading →