Sunday, March 17, 2013

Are Google (or Any Cloud-based) Products Trustworthy?

As most readers of this blog already know, Google is killing Google Reader. I am upset that they have chosen to do this, but what most upsets me is the way they have done this:

On March 13th, Google posted the following to their official blog:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
First of all there is only 3 1/2 months till the shutdown of Reader not 4 months. That may sound picky, but I use Reader heavily and am not impressed by any of the currently available alternatives. They should have given us more like a year. If they had given a year, there would be a ton of options available, but 3 months? First they drove every competitor (I'm referring to the desktop RSS apps that were numerous before Google Reader) either out of business or to total dependency on Google Reader for syncing, and now they just turn it off. The few tiny online competitors that remain spent much of their day down from the load of the HUGE number of users fleeing Google. Since Google's announcement, several mobile apps that synced with Google Reader have thrown in the towel. Google can do this, but is it wise?

Second, Google's post above acts like Reader had few users, but the Chrome RSS subscribe extension had over 800,000 users (and this would only be installed by really hard core users). Google Reader clearly has several million active users. Worse for Google, most of these users have a large presence on the Internet. They will not take this quietly. Is it wise for Google to upset so many influential people?

Finally we turn to the issue of Cloud-based Apps, Google and Trust...

I'm writing this blog using another Google app, How do I know Google won't shut it down with only 3 months notice? I do this blog gratis... with only three months and the fact I use a address that I could not move, and the need to learn another blog and get it all setup, etc... well it could quite simply kill the blog. Just how many blogs would die?

I use Google Finance too... I'm not as critically dependent, but will it just go poof on a whim?

I use You Tube... what keeps it from going poof on a whim?

My business uses Google Apps. I would assume that they would be very slow about shutting down a service there... but do I have any guarantee?

How do I know that next time they won't give me just a 1 month notice?

This problem goes much deeper than just with Google. Why would I believe Microsoft would be any better? Why should I believe the tiny firms offering cloud-based RSS replacements will be there a few months from now?

When you have desktop software and the company that makes it goes belly up or decided not to support it anymore, well it hurts, but you still have the software and it will generally work just fine until you find a good replacement.

Google has just proven that cloud-based apps are not reliable.

Google needs to step back and rethink the Reader fiasco. How many people will be willing to use Google's next nifty "free" service that comes out when they have been burnt by the abrupt loss of Reader? They are risking people losing trust in the Cloud, just at the time when people were beginning to believe.

Update: Ghacks has a related post, and another.
Update: Lilliputing has a related post.

1 comment:

  1. Agree 100%. If someone still wanted to run their business with Lotus for DOS, they could still do so. There are still businesses still using OS/2 with some modern upgrades via eComStation.

    Aside from the unreliability, there are major concerns regarding hacking and spyware (for ad purposes) too.

    Where I give Google credit... they make it easy to take your data with you. All their services appear to have import/export functions. I don't ever expect this from Apple or Microsoft.


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