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March 19, 2013

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Michael

Phil,

that summary seems to completely contradict your previous post about not paying for products that are freely available (in that case RSS feed readers). Free RSS readers will be ten a penny now but encouraging Reader-migrants to hop on board one of them isn't necessarily good advice (Pinboard is one example).

Reader allows you to export your content anyway, so no real loss to the end user. At the end of the day if it doesn't pay the bills why should they support it? So I'm not sure how any Reader user (I've been using Reader since launch) has been held "hostage to a product that Google might just decide to can in the next few years". I've had a good run for my money and now its time to move on. Where's the problem?

Phil Bradley

Thanks for your comments Michael. I'm not sure that we can rely on either free OR paid products these days can we? They can all fail, and equally they can all succeed. Netvibes for example has now been going for years without charging its users for the product. Other products work well with limited free offerings, backed up by a paid version.

I'm slightly amused by the idea that Google has to 'pay the bills'. Yes, of course they do, you're quite right, but one of the ways that they do that, as an advertising company, is to get us to use their products, and to keep using their products. That means that we have to trust them, and sure, some products will not give them the revenue that they're after, but in the grand scheme of things, sometimes keeping users happy and satisfied is paramount. They're not going to do that if we can't trust the product they bring out today is still going to be around in a few months time.

I'm really pleased that you're able to put down one product and pick up another, but please don't assume that your skills and experiences are shared by everyone else, because I can assure you that they're not. For some people it's going to be a very big and difficult wrench to learn a new product; if they had chosen a Google product to use in the first place 'because it's Google' they need to realise that probably isn't a good enough reason any longer. They may be better off using a product that's produced by a smaller organisation that want to focus on a great product and keep their user base happy. That's not Google.

Megan Roberts

Hi Phil,

Some recently suggested to me something that I think sounds rather plausible for Google's behaviour: it's about finding possible competition, buying it up and then shutting it down once it's got market domination. That would seem to be what they did with Reader and what they'll continue to do to other small companies with great tools.

Even if they're not competing directly, Google seems to think that any of your online life you spend elsewhere is a bad thing and will seek to get rid of it where possible.

Like you said, it's about lack of trust. Google have now lost my trust. I have to keep my (now rather unpleasant to use) gmail account because of the length of time I've used it and the number of people that have the address/things that I've subscribed to; but other than that I've deleted all of my Google accounts after this. Yes, I'm that petty! But it's not just that - if I can't trust them to look after my interests when using their products, why should I reward their tactics by being another person they can 'sell' to advertisers?

Now I just have to re-train my brain to type something else in when I want to do a search! (and on that note I won't give in to the temptation to bang on about how much worse that is than it used to be, too....)

Phil Bradley

Hi Megan, thanks for that. Yes, you're absolutely right - Google *does indeed* buy up other companies, get rid of the competition and then close down the resource. Aardvark is a good example of this. It's really rather a shame, because the company purchased gets all excited, thinks that they are going to be doing good things, and the next they know, their little babe has been sacrificed on the Google money altar.

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