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Google’s decision to kill Google Reader underlines the risk you take with its apps. You never know where you stand with Google and its products from one day to the next.

There’s an obvious danger relying on free software and services. The provider has no financial or contractual obligation to carry on delivering. Hardheaded commercial organisations like Google care little for moral obligations.

What you might see as essential business tools exist at Google’s whim. The company can pull the plug at any moment.

This applies to Gmail and all the Google Drive apps. It applies to the Chrome browser, Google+, YouTube and Google Maps. All these services are free. Google could stop them all tomorrow if it wishes.

As I wrote earlier: sometimes free is too high a price.

Google’s high-handed approach to running its business sounds alarm bells. I wouldn’t put my faith in a paid Google Apps account.

Google has a financial incentive to keep paid-for Google Apps running. Yet app revenue is a tiny fraction of Google’s business. Google could leave thousands of users in the lurch without a blip on the annual result.

Closing Reader is a small annoyance, but it undermines trust in Google’s entire offering. A prudent business user can’t risk committing to such uncertainty.

3 thoughts on “The risk you take with Google apps

  1. You know what you’re saying is what I’ve been trying to tell people about cloud storage and S/PaaS.

    I think the main issue about Google services is the fact that they’re hosted by Google. If Microsoft shutdown you still had Word and Excel etc on your computer. If Google decides Drive is a no-go you have to deal with it and find an alternative.

    I understand your ‘Google = advertising, Microsoft = software’ and I agree with you. I also think what exasperates it is the fact that these services are moving away from your control completely. And also that Google is a company that keeps a lot in flux (because they aren’t a software company and they’re trying to keep up with their main business).

    I think the main problem going forward for Google is the fact that their people like it that way. They don’t rely on office programs to be stable for day-to-day work generally and are much more flexible (imo) than Microsoft higher-ups so they don’t see your problem as a problem.

    I’m going to disagree with you on the morals in this case (While Google is supposedly ‘do no evil’, the bigger you get the harder that becomes exponentially). I think they gave everyone 3 months to sort out their new RSS reader.

    I won’t defend ‘oh well it’s free you get what you pay for’ because I think if you offer a service (even for free) there should be some guarantee about it’s quality. I believe Google has done it’s duties (imo). It’s just a shame that they’re closing what was a big part of some people’s workflows/lives. Just like the other thousand web services that have gone down (and a fair share of them from Google too).

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