Jay Shirley

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Thoughts on Google.

Published: 08 Dec 2011

I don’t really fault Google. They need to monetize. There needs to be a push for a cohesive product offering.

Google is a company built through acquisitions, both talent and technology. It’s invariably going to be disjointed. There will be many leaders and few followers. What we’re seeing now is an inevitability.

Last night my wife sits down to check her email and recoils back. “What happened?” she asks. The obnoxious “New Look” dialog box startled her. It’s an entirely reasonable reaction to think the service or your account had been hacked or fallen victim to a virus. It was a bad experience for her.

As technology experts we berate users who don’t pay attention and fall victim to phishing scams then surprise them with new and obnoxious warnings to get their attention. We should do better.

Now there is a new danger in using Google and GMail for our apps. We are at their upgrade mercy. It’s a catch-22. Even very well-built commercial services for email don’t offer the same convenience that Google has given us. I would have happily paid Google money to not mess with my email experience. Just like, you know, a real app. I choose the upgrade path.

Unfortunately, what has been forced upon me is a bad situation. I have the same mediocre experience between GMail, Google Plus and YouTube. Without anything I’ve done, though. I had a separate YouTube account and now automatically it’s connected to my Google+ account. It looks and functions differently. I didn’t ask for this upgrade.

There were a lot of changes forced upon me. I don’t like this. This is the inherent danger of web/hosted applications (really, any application you don’t own a license to). Microsoft can’t make me upgrade from XP to Vista to Win7. They can certainly stop supporting XP. That’s their privilege, but they cannot upgrade the software I want to use without my consent and my activity.

Now I’m taking a really long look at any other hosted application and wanting to separate myself from them. I don’t want to be upgraded to a different experience. I’m happy to try it, but do not force an upgrade on me that suits a business case but not my case.

I largely missed the Google Reader fiasco because I discovered Reeder. That was great. I would have even missed GMail, since I mostly use Postbox. However, the fact it is all coming together between every service without my consent means I can’t simply ignore the upgrade. I have no choice.

I’m getting no benefit that I want and am instead forced to deal with changes I didn’t ask for. This is putting Google squarely in the evil category and I feel I should just find alternatives. I already have given up on Google+, should I also give up on GMail?