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Google’s decision to close Google Reader has implications beyond destroying the best tool for monitoring news feeds. As if that isn’t bad enough.

The message is clear: you can’t rely on Google applications. Committing to Google’s tools and services is risky.

This goes as much for Gmail as Google Apps or Android. All of them only exist on Google’s whim. The company could shut them at short notice.

Whatever propaganda comes from Google, actions speak louder than words. Software and services are not Google’s main business. The company earns more than 95 percent of revenue and all profit from advertising and search. Nothing else matters.

Even paid-for Google Apps is peripheral. It doesn’t matter a jot back at corporate HQ.

Google’s interest in Android is to feed its search and advertising business. It sees smartphones and tablets as mobile advertising billboards. Google hasn’t done a good job profiting from Android so far. If the smartphone and tablet OS can’t sell advertising, Google will lose interest.

It’s better to use products and services from companies who see your business as central to their business.

12 thoughts on “Google not a serious business partner

  1. Oh dear, with that post I’m afraid you’ve shown more than a hint of bias and a definite willingness to pass on FUD, such a shame.

  2. My guess is that 90% of users of Google services won’t know or care about Google Reader being killed.The good ship Google will sail on regardless. I agree there’s an element of FUD in your post, Bill.

    Recently I moved out of Wellington, and TelstraClear wouldn’t let me use my old Paradise email address any more, even though I stayed with the company. At that stage I decided to get right out of ISP-based email. My long-held Gmail account then became my primary personal email service. I won’t be cutting and running.

  3. Sorry, I don’t agree.

    Google got me and others hooked on Reader, used its clout to wipe out the competition, then pulled the plug leaving me high and dry. I simply can’t afford to go through the same in a year to two because the company decides Gmail or Documents is no longer core business.

    The fact that neither product contributes a profit rings alarm bells.

    Whatever risk was involved in dealing with Google a week ago is now higher.

    Having said that, I have to stick with both for the moment because I work with organisations that have committed to Google.

    • I can’t help but disagree on this one. Nothing has changed – a free product died, yes, one that you were personally attached to, but still free all the same. This is not a new thing, nor is it uncommon. I doubt Google planned to kill this off from the outset, If you look at Reader’s past, the product was still being worked on up until around a year and a half ago (http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/23/the-long-and-storied-history-of-google-reader/). This was something that changed when the company pivoted to “cleaning house” as there was so much scope creep going on that there were too many fingers in too many pies. Google doesn’t want to be everyone’s favorite uncle anymore, they want to be very good in very specific spaces, not “half-done” in lots of different spaces..

      Those spaces? Search. Gmail. Advertising. Android. Next-gen tech.
      The core pillars. And a tidy up has to occur to focus on them.

      As for Google Apps, that statement is entirely incorrect. The product is NOT going anywhere. It is a $1b in revenue business (http://9to5google.com/2012/12/06/google-apps-has-generated-1-billion-in-revenue-this-year-profit-remains-a-mystery/) and it’s clear from the continual investment there that this is core to the company. Same with Android – you wouldn’t see that product abandoned until the company didn’t have enough money to continue anything but it’s core products.

      • Fair enough.

        Yet, if you click through from the link to the Wall Street Journal, that story says “Google to Rein In Free Version of Software” – which goes some way towards underlining my point that you can’t trust Google’s free services.

      • “Nothing has changed”. I don’t agree. Google has moved on from closing marginal, unused services to cutting away at stuff that is widely used.

  4. Google is also pretty arbitrary when it comes to the products you pay for.

    We have 400+ users on Google Mail. Some months ago they arbitrarily decided to not only stop supporting IE8 in Google Mail, they also bombarded all of our users with nagware and suggestions that they install Google Chrome. Frankly, it was a pain in the arse. (Yes, there are technical reasons why many of our uses were running IE8 and not IE9/Firefox/Chrome. I don’t want to go into them.)

    If it had been a vendor of non-cloud software it wouldn’t have been a problem. We’d have kept using the current version of the software until we decided to upgrade our servers, no harm done. But when Google does it to Google Mail… you’ve got no alternative and no right of appeal.

    I don’t have a problem with that sort of behaviour for a free or hobbyist run service, I definitely have a problem with it when it comes to a vendor I’m paying a good amount of money to for a working service.

    • Yeah, no sympathy for me for needing to run a near-12 year old OS. They originally stopped support 5 years ago…. even then there should have been an upgrade path in the works if security and maintainability was even on your company’s radar.

      IE8 is at a very low percentage worldwide and I don’t blame them, I don’t support it unless we get a complaint about a bug, even then we won’t go out of our way.

  5. I think if they leverage Chrome OS right they could become a serious business partner, I just don’t think they have anyone able to do it even though they were poised in a very, very good position (XP upgraders).

    I think they have an alternative for RSS, I’m just puzzled as to why they cut Reader before they were ready.

  6. Hiya Bill,
    I agree with you and this article is a timely reminder that I need to shift from having one of my gmail addresses as a primary. Last year I was warned by someone who had their gmail account closed down (yea, eventually he got back in but it brought him to his knees first) that I really needed to change asap. I still haven’t.

    What you say is common sense. Revenue rules even with the G.

    Gmail should be better off than google reader because:
    – despite what the PR pitch is, gmail isn’t actually *free* it’s just the payment isn’t in financial terms to the user, the currency is information
    – they can serve ad’s which are targeted to users based on their interests
    – they can gather much more data on a user by keeping gmail alive
    – more info = better targeting = better ROI on ad spend

    And call me a conspiracy theorist but the information gmail holds is too valuable to the governments of the world to stop gathering by shutting it down. Gotta be an incentive for the key players in G, if not G itself to keep it going.

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