My emotional response to Google Reader and the ensuing lack of trust in betting on Google’s applications has received many reactions. Marco Arment, who is the co-creator of Tumblr and the brainiac behind Instapaper, disagreed with my take on Google Keep in his widely read blog.
In this business, you can’t count on anything having longevity. To avoid new services that are likely to get shut down within a few years, you’d have to avoid every new tech product. Products and services lasting more than a few years are the exception, not the rule.
Fair enough! Except I didn’t say that.
This is what I said: It is hard to trust Google (s goog) anymore to make rational and consumer centric decisions. I said — nuanced as it might be — that I don’t trust Google to introduce new apps and keep them around, because despite what the company says, these apps are not their main business. Their main business is advertising and search — regardless of whatever nonsense you might read. They will sacrifice anything and everything to keep those businesses intact. Sure, they embraced mobile advertising and mobile search, but that’s just the same business on a different device.
I am far more likely to believe in and use products that are the main focus of the company behind them. Online storage? Dropbox. Time-shifting web content? Pocket or Instapaper. Short form communication? Twitter. Baby pictures and wedding photos to make single people miserable (or happy for being single)? Facebook.
The point is that a company whose main focus is a specific service or a singular product, like Evernote, is far more likely to focus its energies to build a business around it and keep it around. And if in seven years (or seven months) they fail — hell, at least they went down trying.
Our company pays thousands of dollars for Google Apps and the reason we do is because it is a business for Google and it makes good business sense. I have no problem paying for Instapaper or Pocket or Dropbox or Skype or anything that helps me do my job. And if anything that starts out free (Dropbox did) and then wants me to pay for it (like Evernote), I don’t hesitate upgrading. Why? Because I want these guys to be around.
As the Google Reader example shows (and as Chris Wetherell told me in an interview), Google didn’t even try with Reader. It never gave us an option to pay, even though Google is willing to offer some paid services when it makes sense, like multiseat licenses for Google Apps.
As Marco said, in the end it’s always business. It’s just not Google’s business, so perhaps that is why we should shift our energies and attention to services whose business is the apps they want us to use.
That said, I don’t think Marco is that far off from my way of thinking. He wrote, “Investing too heavily in someone else’s proprietary system for too long rarely ends gracefully, but when it bites us, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Isn’t that what I am saying? Albeit, with a lot more emotion?
37 thoughts on “More on why I won't use Google Keep: it's not personal, it's business”
It sounds like the only difference here is you are not exiting the “app freeway” when you approach a “It is not our main business” app exit while Marco isn’t automatically deterred by the sign. He essentially doesn’t see the sign when he sees the exit.
Well said! I think the differences are glass half-full or half-empty.
You don’t pay for google search. Is that going to go away?
You don’t pay for Linux. Is that going away?
There is zero correlation between product longevity and whether or not the user pays for it.
You don’t pay for Google Search because you are not their customer there! You are the product served to the advertisers by Google. Very foolish argument there. Also, Linux is a community driven product not out there to do business.
Seems you don’t understand tech world at all.
“You don’t pay for Google Search because you are not their customer there”
And why wouldn’t that apply to Reader and any number of other Google services, too? if you want to use the “you didn’t pay for it, therefore you’re not the customer” argument, then that applies equally to Google, the search engine, Gmail, and Reader.
Not sure it could be more obvious. Search makes money, reader did not.
agreed, absolutely agreed
Isn’t Pocket entirely free?
But I am happy to pay for and have asked the management about it.
Yet you use an iphone, a closed , crippled ecosystem that can only be niche long term.
Care to define “long term” so I can check back for claim chowder?
… which he paid money for, which contributes greatly to the company’s bottom line, making it important to continue development of said device.
That versus an “open” ecosystem that contributes very little (actually negative value considering Motorola) to the company’s bottom line, and also one that the company is rapidly losing control over (see Samsung, Amazon).
What was your argument again?
I won’t say that I will never use a Google product again; but I will say that I will never trust Google again. Furthermore I will go out of my way to use a competitor whenever possible. For instance, my search engine is now Bing … which I prefer anyway. For now I will continue my already limited use of GMail and Google Voice. I no longer really use Blogger, so I will likely just never post to that blog again. (I’m sure it will be a casualty soon anyway.) I recently thought about spending more time on Google+; but now I see no point. As far as anything new, I wouldn’t take the chance. Purely & simply, I refuse to be disappointed again by Google.
Google has yanked something out from under me one time too many times … and Google Reader was the worst hurt of all. It is the most useful product they have cancelled in my opinion … not just to me but to possibly millions of others as well as many developers who have made excellent RSS apps to sync through Google.
Reader is my most used web service. It is dedicated to the first browser tab on all my computers, as well as my phone. I’m feeling out alternatives, but nothing has proved as useful yet. I understand why Om and many others are emotional about it, and it definitely brings feelings of distrust to any of Google’s future services. It definitely feels like a good time to start being less reliant on Google.
“It is the most useful product they have cancelled in my opinion … not just to me but to possibly millions of others as well as many developers who have made excellent RSS apps to sync through Google.”
Surely a lot of those developers with enough resources to survive will be reluctant to create new products relying on Google services that can unexpectedly be pulled out from under them. While looking for an iOS feed reader app before choosing Newsify it was tough finding ones that *didn’t* require a Google Reader account (as Newsify still does). Some developers (e.g. Feedly) might be opportunistic with GR’s shutdown but plenty, plus end users, will suffer at least short term negative consequences. I think it has the least impact on those who’ve only used Google Reader’s web interface; more migration options already exist.
typo.. the correct URL is https://duckduckgo.com
Why do you trust any company?
What company is going to keep around products that waste their time and lose money?
What is really needed is a universal app (Android, IOS, HTML5) which:
* encrypts/decrypts your notes.
* stores/caches them locally.
* stores/retrieves them, in encrypted form, from any storage service you specify.
Then if someone loses interest in being in the notekeeping business, I just have to specify a new storage server and move the content.
I also never have to trust said storage provider not to reveal my content to third parities or government queries without them having to subpoena *me* to get the passphrase.
Keep will actually be around for a while. Make that a long time. Here’s why:
Evernote has shown to world is that “note-taking” is indeed another “killer app” that syncs across various platforms and provides for a very sticky and useful experience. This is attested to by 50 million users around the world, of which nearly a third are in the US. With those numbers growing by 100,000 users a day, Evernote controls this market. 1.4 million of those are also paying customers (each of them pays either $5 a month or $45 a year). [Source: recent Businessweek article.]
But, for Google, it’s not about the money (which is why I don’t think it will ever charge users for Keep or roll it into its Google Apps suite). Instead, for Google, it is about not being there, helping create and capture value – when users are creating data, archiving it and presumably returning to it repeatedly and throughout the day. And horror of horrors, searching through it!
OK, that was a bit dramatic…but the reason Google Keep is (should be) so important is because Evernote has captured a healthy marketshare, momentum and media attention in a recurring, high-importance online experience market .
And that early mover advantage means that as more and more of users’ data is stored within Evernote, the less they will be inclined to migrate away to another platform in the future. And Google realizes that. It realizes that it is a bit late to this game. So, many of those users are probably lost to it for the foreseeable future. But it also knows that better late than never is a good strategy too.
So in a move that should remind everyone of Microsoft’s second or third-to-market + catchup strategy in the past, Google will also work very hard to catch up and slow down Evernote’s growth in the near term and try as hard as it can, to encourage Evernote user defections in the medium to long-term. We can certainly expect some serious enhancements and integrations with a variety of other Google services that already enjoy the first mover advantage, as Keep keeps evolving.
Google can’t afford to do otherwise and let its’ users use yet another service for part of their online lives.
Mohan Kompella | BminusC.com
I disagree, Mohan… I don’t think Keep is a reaction to Evernote. Instead, I see it as a consolidation of services like Tasks and Bookmarks into the new ecosystem of Drive. Drive is a Google Apps service and therefore Keep should/could very easily be included in that as a Drive app.
People are quick to see the “war” and think that everything is a reaction to competitors, but Keep is actually just a refinement of Google tools within their new “Cards of information” design scheme and search strategy.
@Om I can’t understand your logic for avoiding Google Keep out of spite.
Google Reader was discontinued because it does’t fit the new Google ecosystem. Not because Google simply no longer feels like supporting its users… I personally have started using Google+ much more than Reader to stay up to date with my industry news and connected with experts. Sure, Google+ is not a replacement for Reader, but it very easily could be with the addition of a few features; the most important being staring posts so you can return to them later and auto generating posts from an RSS feed… I’m sure we will see development on Google+ prior to Reader’s end date.
Regardless of Google’s ability to integrate Reader-like functionality within Google+, they provide Google Takeout so that we can easily take our data with us… Google Reader included. It is ridiculously simple to move from Reader to any other RSS reader, so the quote about proprietary systems is completely off the mark.
With all the other RSS reader services out there, why is everyone so upset about Reader being sunsetted?
You and Marco do not seem that far apart on your perspectives here. I find it very difficult to trust any product where the business model includes magical thinking.
Most of Google’s side projects seem to be based around the idea that if they encourage people to use the internet Google with indirectly, eventually benefit. These products are highly suspect and look more like a experiments (didn’t they use to be clear about that and say that outright?)
Their core products, Search, Apps, Android, etc. All have a much clearer short and long term profit proposition. Sure this is all just business, but before jumping into a new service and investing time and attention, I like to know where the money is.
I agree with Om, Google Keep definitelly doesn’t look like an application which will make Google some serious money, nor it would attract many users, especially when Evernote or Springpad are already very well established platforms. If Google thinks seriously about the note-taking business, they should acquire (probably) Springpad (as Evernote would be too expensive, I guess), switch it to Drive and live happily ever after. That would be serious business move. Keep is just a micro application and nothing more, already on some “to shutdown” list.
Google is integrating their app (Drive apps) into search (https://www.google.com/experimental/gmailfieldtrial) and Google Now, which sorta makes them core business.
I’ve been using Logic for about 20 years, never feared it was going to get shut down. GarageBand on iOS is only a couple of years old and keeps getting better, and no fear of being shutdown. And the music community is small and has almost no money in it anymore. Keeping an app going is a matter of good management and responsibility to your users, not a spin of a roulette wheel.
So no, don’t trust Google to make your apps.
Steven – yes I agree that if Drive is the ultimate repository of user-created content within the Google ecosystem, then Keep becomes an app that both feeds into Drive and feeds off of Drive.
And in general, I also agree that the media is quick to latch on to real and imagined “wars” between companies…but in this case, I would maintain that Evernote is a threat to Google. If you look at how people spend time online, you are looking at email (Gmail), search (Google), career related stuff (LinkedIn), social (FB + Twitter), news (Google News) and entertainment (YouTube, various streaming services).
So “note taking” as an important activity came out of nowhere is capturing attention and users’ time…which is why Google can’t afford to concede this experience also to someone else and miss a monetization activity. In fact, that’s all the more reason, Drive fits in nicely. So Keep is the front-end response, backed by Drive on the back-end to tie all user content together.
hardikpandya11 seems like you don’t understand the BUSINESS world. Companies need to grow, they diversify and move into new areas of growth. Just because Google’s main income stream right now comes from advertising doesn’t mean that will always be the case. The landscape is always changing and I will argue that Google is not an advertising company it is a TECHNOLOGY company. Without innovation in technology and services they would become insignificant very quickly. They know this and that is why they invest in many products that people can use for free. It’s all about inviting you into their eco system and keeping you there. Then and only then does their target advertising / marketing that they sell becomes very valuable. The arguments stated in this article are very narrow geek minded and don’t understand the bigger picture in both the technology world and business world. It’s not all about coding you doofusess. Evernote is ZERO and could be (and probably will be) swallowed up by a bigger fish very soon. What will you say then? Seriously some of the comments made by so called intelligent people here are a joke.
As for Google Reader for Google is was a dead end. There are so many free Readers out there and their ability to raise any significant revenue is zero (if you understand how the whole concept of RSS works). So for Google yes it wasn’t worth them supporting it. People should not be upset because it was cost them nothing to use Google Reader nor did it really store any significant amounts of their data on that service. So you all need to STFU if you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.
As for Google Keep, it is an excellent product and well overdue. Google knew this as well. With the money and resources they have at hand it will only get better and better at a much faster rate than Evernote or any other competitor could dream of. Evernote don’t have the pockets or resources Google have. The thing I like most about Keep is it’s integration with other Google products. I don’t want to have to press extra buttons, or sync this, sync that, store here etc etc etc with 20 different system all trying to talk to each other just to keep basic notes etc in one main repository to be used with the other Google services I use and have been using since ohhhh 2003. Yes 10 years and Google haven’t dumped any of their products I use in that 10 year period, only made them more innovative and better.
If you don’t use any Google products or are part of another eco system them all this means sweet FA to you and you won’t care. But your criticism and arguments against Google and their products are also worthless too.
Google might not be for everyone, especially the hermit type paranoid, by I for one am glad they are around and continue to be the most innovative overall Technology company out there. I’ll continue to use and support their products and look forward to seeing what more they can come out with. Gee imagine if they weren’t just an ad company hey?
“Our company pays thousands of dollars for Google Apps and the reason we do is because it is a business for Google and it makes good business sense. ”
Drive is pretty much the personification of Google Apps, so why do you trust Google Apps and not what looks to be a dedicated Drive component for sucking content into the Drive/Google Apps ecosystem? Seems very probable that their next move is to begin integrating a “Keep” button into their other services.
Reader was different from Keep in that it didn’t belong to any of Larry Page’s 7 (well 5 after the Maps & Commerce reshuffle) “focus” units:
Knowledge – Alan Eustace
Identity/Social – Vic Gundotra
Android,Chrome & Google Apps – Sundar Pichai
Advertising and Commerce – Susan Wojcicki
Youtube and Video – Salar Kamangar
Given how Google now operates after the restructure (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/01/03/google-larry-page/) Keeps future doesn’t seem shaky since it was conceived after the strategy shift so would be aligned with their new vision. It’s the products which were created before Page took charge which are at risk.
I’m not surprise about your anti-Google article as majority of your Google article are against them.
But Google terminating reader is done in a bad taste. I’m sure there are plenty of smart people in Google but they handle this very badly.
I’m still waiting for any reader alternative announcement in Google I/O. Google could be holding into something.
IMO, Google has demonstrated the Achilles Heel of cloud services. And it’s not just about their shuttering of entire services, such as Reader.
Back when it was still available, I had students in my college class setting up their own domains on the free version of Google Apps. The problem was the support burden it placed on me. On a daily basis Google would add, delete, or just rearrange capabilities. The process of verifying to Google that you owned a domain that you purchased via Google became quite Byzantine.
In comparison, if you purchase a client-side application (Office), you have a fixed implementation of that application. You can decide when you want to expose your users to changes.
As a “techie” I love the constant stream of ideas and changes. As a business person, I long for stability and longetivity.
If you have a fixed client side application that gets abandoned, and no longer works with current OSs and current computers, of what use is it?
This is what happens to the huge majority of commercial software. It is abandoned and no longer works unless you run some awkward emulation and then makes it no longer interoperable (or with some games that require verification, they simply no longer work unless cracked).
Traditional software products become abandoned at a far greater rate than cloud products.
My version of your concern is similar, but different. I want services to have a viable business model. If they can’t make money, how can they survive?
I love lastpass, but I don’t see a lot of value in their premium services. I would rather see them take features off the free version to provide more value to the premium version and to fund the company.
I can’t see where Google Voice provides any value to Google. Yet, I suspect it is a relatively costly service. What about Picasa? In search, Google scholar is great; however, is it reasonable to think that scholar can be successfully supported by advertising revenues the way that Google search is?
Picasa is how Google+ photos are handled, and given that photos are huge for Google right now (see their recent acquisitions…), there’s no way Picasa is going away, though it may simply become Google+’s photos.
“With all the other RSS reader services out there, why is everyone so upset about Reader being sunsetted?”
@Steven: The main thing that irks me about GR is that Google lied about the reason it was being axed.
I have had a growing aversion to Google in general for a while now. Their motto appears to be “Do no evil if we think we might be caught.”
I haven’t tried Keep, and I won’t. I am an Evernote *customer* whereas I’m only a Google *product*. I prefer the customer role. As a customer, I get support. As a product, I get “Who the f*ck are you, anyway?” Big Difference.
Here’s a couple of products with a fully committed team and a revenue model behind, that I paid for and went away without warning: Sparrow and ConnectedHQ. I am not sure the cause-effect argument that the article is trying to make actually holds that well in practice.