Mar 242013

Under the heading of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Ed Bott has a pretty damning timeline of Google’s talk-up, and subsequent rug-pull of its support for both Google Reader and its back-end RSS support. Of course, Ed Bott can’t help but take a shot at his employer’s beat’s other arch-nemesis, regarding the future of NetNewsWire in a post-Google Reader world :

Wisely, the developers of that product have decided not to make the same mistake twice. They’ve dropped their plans to rely on Apple’s iCloud.

Unfortunately, as a service that Apple relies on to provide core sync for its for-pay hardware, and as such unlikely to go away ever, the comparison to Google’s free services is a little south of genuine. You can’t blame Ed: after a couple hundred words hitting the nail on the head, he was bound to smash his thumb eventually.

 Posted by at 10:59 pm
Mar 242013

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog has an excellent crystallization of the problem with Google’s systematic service discontinuations, most recently (and extensively, in terms of user base) with Google Reader. Money quote:

The problem, I’m beginning to think, is simply mismatch. The core services of Google’s business are often not the Google services I rely on most. And even when their core products and my needs do meet, the business connection is indirect.

It’s that last clause that nails it – this notion of the indirect relationship. What Google’s users perceive as Google’s products is not how the company actually makes its money; their users’ information does that. This is not a subtle point. You pay Dropbox for storage (or use it for free, but it’s the same principle that makes the company their money), and that’s all they do. You may also pay Google for extra email capacity, but they couldn’t care less about providing that service; it’s a means to an end. As long as they can make their baubles shiny enough (and of course free), they will always be assured wide adoption. But this isn’t a “surprise and delight” level; it only has to be good enough for Google to get its hooks into their users’ data. This is the reason why every attempt for Google to create an actual product (Nexus Q, Chromebook Pixel) that people could buy have been laughed out of the market. It’s also the reason why every Spring, when Google kills their unprofitable “free” services, so many people realize that they get what they pay for.

 Posted by at 1:08 am
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