Trusting Google

Om Malik:

It is hard to trust Google 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.

That’s how I feel.

  • Once I first learned the first bits about how sophisticated Google’s amalgam of contextual-search database and targeted advertising machinery was, I figured they were never in it for anything that could be called “consumer-centric.”

    • matthewmaurice

      Bingo! As long as you approach any Google service with the understanding that you’re not the customer–you’re the product, you’re fine. The problem is that a lot of people still don’t get that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

  • I honestly think the issue with Google Reader is way overblown. RSS is a standard that can be read by many apps and even though the loss of Reader syncing is a thing, I really think it’s silly to exaggerate the importance of losing this app. Most Google apps – especially the important ones – stay put where they are. Focusing on the loss of apps as a sign of Google’s untrustworthiness doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    The reason I don’t trust Google is because they flat-out break the law and lie about it. They broke EU privacy laws flagrantly, said they were going to change their behavior, and then it was discovered they did absolutely nothing to conform to the law. This is the clearest indicator of all just how little they care about doing things honestly and above-board.

    Additionally, Google misleads people. There are countless instances I can cite, but the latest which comes to mind is the intentional and deceptive wording of the Apple accepting Google Now in the app store (to wit: Google tried to make it sound like Apple rejected the app when, in fact, they’d never submitted it). This is something Google does constantly.

    So the question of certain Google apps and whether they’ll stick around is a poor litmus test for their trustworthiness and, frankly, it’s importance is exaggerated. A better litmus test is to look at how Google breaks the law, shows no intention of obeying the courts when they’re told to conform, and intentionally deceives the public about what they’re doing. I think that’s enough.

    • Steven Fisher

      I agree with most of your comment, but I think you’ve lost sight of exactly how many projects Google has started and killed when you say most of them stay put. 🙂

      Still, I think the deception, dishonourable behaviour and lawbreaking are far more significant. Even if the app is going to stay put, is the price you’re going to pay for that free app really worth it?

      • “Most Google apps – especially the important ones – stay put where they are.” <- I think this is true.

        Yes, the little ones come and go more often, but the majors don’t move much.

        And I don’t really care because I don’t trust them.

        • Steven Fisher

          If you’re limiting it to the popular ones, I’m sure you’re right.

          But yeah. I was picking at a single point. Sorry about that. 🙂

  • Why is everyone freaking out over Google Reader? Is it the first time you guys have seen a service shut down? Should I be pissed at Apple because they shut down iDisk even though I was a paying customer?

    • matthewmaurice

      You weren’t a paying customer when iDisk shut down. No one paid for the last year of service, and some of us got 15 months or so of “free” MobileMe service.

      It doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to realize that a lot of people feel burned because although Reader was free, they invested a great deal of time and effort in the use of the service (ostensibly providing lots of data for Google’s “true” product, advertising), and now it’s going away.

      The real question for those interested in the “inside baseball” aspect of this is, will the cost savings Google realizes be more or less than the the damage to their “brand” and consumer perceptions? It will be enlightening to see how Google Keep does coming so close on the heels of the Reader announcement.

      • The point is that services shut down. The reason I mentioned iDisk was because some were arguing this Reader shut down as a reason to pay for services you like. I have been paying for iDisk since .mac.

        I used to rely on Safari RSS Apple shut it down too. I put a great deal of time and effort to keep it organized the way I like. I feel bad that Reader shut down. But the whole hoopla surrounding it is overblown. It’s a fact of life that products and services shut down move on. Google is not the only one doing this.

    • Jay Martin

      The difference is that there were plenty of other services that could replace iDisk. Google Reader, being free, drove all the competition out of business. So everyone who needed that kind of service had only one place to go. Now, after running everyone out of business, Google shuts it down with only months notice (Apple gave well over a year).

      That is bad business no matter how you look at it. It just illustrates that the “services” Google provides are really not there for consumers but rather for advertisers. So, as a consumer, you’re taking a risk that by becoming dependent on a Google service you’re at the mercy of how that service impacts Google’s real customer: advertisers.

      • Yes Google is an advertising company so what. They gave away a product for free everyone says google is the best when they stop everyone says bad business sense? Just like Apple is focused on profits so is google and if Reader wasn’t making the money they wanted they shut it down.

    • This is why I founded the committee to bring Ping back.


      • Steven Fisher

        Wait, Ping’s gone?

    • Steven Fisher

      Your iDisk migration was to copy the files out of iDisk. And nothing of value was lost. 🙂

      • It was an example but there are many other examples of services shutting down. It’s a part of life. And FYI I had Automator workflows that I lost. I had the system wide integration that I lost. I lost MobileMe galleries (shared photo streams are not the same thing, they reduce the size of photos)

  • Tvaddic

    Companies kill services/features all the time, Google isn’t the first or the last. But it is time to move on, they had the service around for 8 years. If you can’t trust Google, don’t trust technology. Because they both will advance while you are stuck in the past. The XBox 360 was released the same year as Google Reader, should we be upset that Microsoft will switch to something new this year?

    • Jay Martin

      “If you can’t trust Google, don’t trust technology.”

      Wow. And they call Apple fans sheep…

      • Tvaddic

        I prefer being called a lion, much more masculine.

    • “If you can’t trust Google, don’t trust technology.”

      Oh boy.

      • Tvaddic

        I guess because we don’t agree I’m completely wrong.

        • Jay Martin

          Uh, no. The quoted statement is unbelievably fanboyish. Can you imagine the comments if you replaced Apple or Microsoft for Google in that sentence?

          • Tvaddic

            I wasn’t trying to say that Google is the pinacle of technology, I was saying that if you don’t trust Google with this, how can you trust everyone else? All the companies do this.

    • Steven Fisher

      I fully trust Google to do every slimy thing they can to make a buck.

      Sometimes, as with search, I am aligned with their goals. Their slime is to my benefit.

      Usually it is not.

      • Tvaddic

        I don’t think Google does anything to make a buck. They let you skip ads on YouTube, they have the ads in the exact same spot so you could competly ignore them if you wanted, and they give away the world’s most popular smartphone OS for free.

        • Steven Fisher

          You can skip the starting ads on YouTube after you’ve watched it for a minimum amount of the ad, but other YouTube ads intrude on the content you’re watching. They give away an OS for free, sure, but it’s a loss leader for their other cloud products (and offer a all-or-nothing approach to local extensions).

          Mind you, I’m not saying any of these are “evil.” In fact, i said specifically they’re NOT. However, they are also NOT in your best interest.

  • rj

    As Marco Arment pointed out in a recent blog post, this stuff happens to everyone. Apple shut down its web sharing with no obvious replacement. It cancelled the XServe. It has been capricious with its Pro Apps: it discontinued Shake (and maybe some others). It radically changed Final Cut Pro, to the chagrin of many of its users. Its been years since Aperture received a significant update, or even an indication that an update is in the works.

    • Yes, and that hasn’t been without controversy either. The ones you mention didn’t pass silently by in the Mac community and I’d say that we doesn’t trust Apple in this regard either. So, your point being…?

    • Jay Martin

      Apple didn’t run all the competition out of business by providing any of these things “free” so you have alternatives.

      • Wait so google gives away stuff for free is google’s fault?

      • Tvaddic

        It doesn’t make sense for Google to disrupt a business they weren’t going to enter. This was probably someone’s 20% project, and they just threw it out there.

    • you have to hate google, remember where you are… (!)