Unhappiness about Google Reader's impending closure and mistrust about Google's commitment to new products won't last.
Google Chromebook Pixel: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
With the launch of Google Keep, the search giant's cloud note-taking service, following the company's announcement that Google Reader will be discontinued, there once again has been talk of a Google backlash.
That's bound to happen when you eliminate an application used by millions of people. Reader had fans, many of them with considerable online influence.
The sense of betrayal among Reader users has been obvious: As Om Malik put it, "I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken."
Internet users, there is no Santa Claus. There's no benevolent Google looking down from the cloud, bestowing bandwidth and service to its followers. Online services cost money to operate and those using Reader weren't paying to keep the service running.
Malik laments that "it is hard to trust Google to keep an app alive."
Trusting any business to operate a service at no charge is trust misplaced. It's as naive as believing that Google's "don't be evil" motto determines Google's actions.
That's not to accuse Malik of naivete. Clearly he understands the deal, noting that he's glad to pay Evernote to store his data. Frankly, we all should be supporting the online services we use by paying for them. Free services are pernicious. Although they clearly have a place, they're so abundant at the moment that the market for online services and content is distorted. And Google deserves much of the blame because it supports unprofitable services with search ad revenue, deterring potential competitors in the process. How many Google Reader competitors were never built because there was no clear way to be compensated for the effort?
Of course it's not that simple. Free services also can be pro-competitive. Free browsers and free online services helped break Microsoft.
Trust might be earned and it might be paid for. But whatever trust Google earned in its youth, it has squandered in its adolescence. Back in 2005, a year after Google went public, New York Times writer Gary Rivlin suggested that Silicon Valley was growing wary of the company everyone had supported because it dethroned Microsoft. In the article, Slide founder and entrepreneur Max Levchin is quoted as saying that although Google "still has a long wick of good will to burn off," he's "surprised at how fast the company's reputation is changing."
Almost eight years later, Google's wick of good will is short enough to require a magnifying glass. The company's unreleased computerized eyewear, Project Glass, already has been banned in a Seattle, Wash., eatery and has prompted a nascent opposition movement in the U.K.
Whether there's anything to this beyond publicity seeking isn't clear. There have been plenty of anti-Google campaigns sponsored by Microsoft and other competitors that haven't achieved their goals -- the antitrust case came to naught. But it's an ominous sign.
Chances are it will because there's no alternative to Google that doesn't have comparable failings. The only white knight left standing, Mozilla, depends on Google ad revenue and dares only nibble at the hand that feeds it.
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial ServicesIT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of September 18, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."