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Google’s constant product shutdowns are damaging its brand (arstechnica.com)
788 points by vanburen on Apr 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 413 comments

Warning: Personal opinion ahead

To understand why this keeps happening, you need to understand the product and engineering culture at Google. As a group, Google engineers and PMs are obsessed with promotion. At the heart of every conversation about system design or product proposal lies an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) question: will working on this get me promoted?

The criteria for promotion at Google, especially at the higher levels like SWE III -> Senior and especially at Senior -> Staff and above, explicitly talk about impact on the organization and the business. This has consequences for the kind of teams people try to join and kind of work they choose to do. Maintenance engineering is so not-rewarded that it's become an inside joke. Any team that isn't launching products starts bleeding staff, any project that isn't going to make a big splash is going to be neglected, and any design that doesn't "demonstrate technical complexity" will be either rejected or trumped up.

This is as important in the product management, people management, and general leadership roles as in engineering. The incentive throughout is to create a product, launch it, apply for promotion, and move on to bigger and better things as soon as possible. In my time at Google I saw organization after organization pay lip service to rewarding maintenance and "preferring landings over launches" and “improving product excellence” but (at least in my experience) nothing stuck.

Usually an organization starts with a top-down direction and the rest of the company is compensated for executing it. Not at Google. The "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach that developed from the early days of twenty percent time and total engineering independence has created a disorganized mess of a company. Multiply the individual incentives fifty thousand times and you get a company that throws stuff at the wall to see if it sticks, and if it doesn't kills it immediately.


This is also why GMail, YouTube, Search, GCP, Android, and others aren’t going anywhere. They’re making money, they’re core to the business, and there’s plenty of opportunity to work on them and get promoted. They all also share one thing in common: deep down they’re frontends for search or advertising (GCP and Apps are an exception because they make money on their own). Measuring and proving impact on search numbers is a well-known promo narrative at Google, so those products are a safe bet for employees and users. Streaming game services, not so much.

I totally understand this - but it doesn't mean I like it.

I could get through having two podcast apps on my Android (Google Podcasts, Google Play Music) that give me notifications for my podcasts, with no plans on phasing out one or the other.

I could get over having two different music apps - Google Play Music and YouTube Music - because it seemed like there might actually be a plan here - albeit we haven't heard anything in ages.

I could get over having two email apps - Inbox and Gmail - because I knew Inbox was just an experiment that was going to be a tease of cool features that may / may not be ported over...therefore I tried not to take the bait.

I could get over having a bunch of different messaging apps - I didn't like it, but 95% of my messages are SMS texts anyway, so it didn't impact me.

The FINAL straw was falling in love with a PixelBook that I bought during the Black Friday sales, as I moved into a role in an org that was 1) deeply invested in G Suite and 2) allowed me to do all my work from the browser - making the Chrome OS concept finally fit for me. THEN Google closes that part of their hardware division.

Now I just have angst over _any_ Google product / service that isn't the core that I use and "know" knock on wood won't go away (Search / Gmail / Chrome). Android wear? Google Home? Hell, I was seriously finally moving to a Pixel 3, as the tight integration with some Chrome OS features on my PixelBook would've been ideal - but I can't even trust that the Pixel phone line will last that much longer.

> The FINAL straw was falling in love with a PixelBook that I bought during the Black Friday sales, as I moved into a role in an org that was 1) deeply invested in G Suite and 2) allowed me to do all my work from the browser - making the Chrome OS concept finally fit for me. THEN Google closes that part of their hardware division.

The PixelBook isn't going to stop getting security updates any time soon, so if it was a good machine before the division was closed, why is it a less good machine now?

What if the machine gets lost or damaged?

You've invested in a platform that you now don't have the same kind of access to anymore.

I just checked eBay and found about 150 Pixelbooks, 17 of which are in "Open Box" (a.k.a., pretty much new) condition. I also found 12 refurbished 120GB Zunes. My brother still drives a perfectly functional Pontiac G8, and he has no trouble finding parts for it when he needs to.

You either can either move on to the current-generation technology or buy an old working gadget from someone else. You're never without good options.

What do you think the half life of most electronics is? Why do you think so many people get anxious about Apple "abandoning" the Mac? A trickle of security updates does not make a well supported and thriving product line.

The iPhone 5s from 2013 can run the latest OS.

The latest version of MacOS supports computers back to 2012.

But while the Mac is not a huge percentage of Apple’s revenue, by itself, it makes enough money to be a Fortune 100 company.

Yes, you can run latest iOS. But it is dog slow. Try to use it with at least 3 apps. For a typical user with > 10 apps it is useless.

Not according to reviews. According to reviews, IOS 12 is very performant for 5s. I know it works well on the 6s series.

The number of applications installed doesn't matter. iOS will purge apps if they are running in the background and take up too much CPU or memory. You're not going to have > 10 apps running in the background. More than likely, you won't have any third party apps using CPU time in the background besides playing music or VOIP.


Just realized that you may be referring to macOS. In that case, that would be RAM and/or disk dependent (SSD vs spinning hard drives).

I ran it on an iPhone 6 and it was fine. Your comment about "at least 3 apps" makes very little sense to me; iOS is notoriously aggressive with memory management, and apps must be designed to expect being killed at any time without warning, with only a few specific background tasks allowed to run (and generally for limited times with explicitly defined purposes). I'm sure my phone had upwards of a hundred apps on it, but generally speaking, only one or two were running at any given time because that's true of any iOS device.

You should be purchasing hardware based on whether the current model looks good, not what model may be next in that product line. The latter is pointless and largely impossible.

Chrome OS itself isn't going anywhere.

How the product looks is a very superficial criterion.

As developers we understand the value of the ecosystem and we want to invest in products that last longer that one or two years.

Also I own Apple and Thinkpad laptops that are between 1 and 7 years old and all of them are still working fine. Laptops last longer than smartphones so you want to ensure the platform will be supported for the next 10 years.

Can you honestly say that Google will support Chrome OS for the next 10 years? Personally I doubt it.

> Can you honestly say that Google will support Chrome OS for the next 10 years? Personally I doubt it.

I work for Chrome OS, opinions are my own.

I think yes it will be supported because Google is trying very hard to diversify its revenue streams and Chrome OS actually makes money and is still growing quickly.

Note that Chrome OS is an entirely separate PA (product area) from Hardware.

How does Chrome OS make money? Are there licensing fees involved?

I am not really qualified to answer that question but I believe it's the combination of licensing fees and support

I think there's a super important distinction here between hardware and platforms/software. The GP was annoyed that they bought a PixelBook before Google killed their hardware division. If I bought a Dell XPS laptop to run Windows, and Dell announced the next day they were discontinuing their XPS line, I wouldn't regret my purchase. Dell's decision doesn't change either the utility of my current hardware or the overall Windows ecosystem.

Regardless of whether or not Chrome OS is here to stay—I very much think it is, personally—Google closing their hardware division doesn't tell us much about Chrome OS's future. Only a tiny fraction of Chrome OS hardware comes from Google itself.

> You should be purchasing hardware based on whether the current model looks good, not what model may be next in that product line.

I couldn't disagree more. When I buy a laptop, I want to know that all the time I invest in learning that ecosystem and customizing won't be wasted time. Or any other hardware. Especially if I have to buy apps for it. I want to know that when I get the next piece of hardware, it will support all the software I already know and love (and paid for!)

I'm reluctant to buy into an ecosystem that might be on the decline, because it means a higher chance of that stuff not working anymore.

I always buy the product that's in front of me, in the state it's in, and expect nothing more. This is why I bought a Jaguar I-PACE instead of a Tesla Model 3. A big part of the differentiating Model 3 value seems to be in vague promises for full self-driving capability and in an increasingly robust charging network in the future. Looking at the features the two cars actually have now, as well as where I can get with the charging networks that already exist or are actively under construction, in my book the I-PACE made more sense.

Not entirely. If the ship is sinking (no future development) it's highly likely things like warranties, support, maintenance, etc -- are also sun setting or degrading in quality -- in a sense that most of the brightest and keen individuals in those departments have routed or been reassigned, leaving lack lustre or not as motivated people behind.

I kind of speak from both sides of this, I had some audio hardware I bought but one day they went radio silent (404 site so presumably belly up), so future support was dead along with all their support drivers. Another was an internship I did at a hardware company where there was just maintenance patches being applied to the product, and it was depressing.

> The FINAL straw was falling in love with a PixelBook that I bought during the Black Friday sales, as I moved into a role in an org that was 1) deeply invested in G Suite and 2) allowed me to do all my work from the browser - making the Chrome OS concept finally fit for me. THEN Google closes that part of their hardware division.

FWIW Chrome OS is a separate PA (product area) than Hardware so Hardware closing whatever division likely has very little impact on the support for your Pixelbook.

I am also sad about that though as I really like the Pixelbook =[

You're basing that on pure speculation so be careful what conclusions you're drawing from it. Chromebooks have historically gotten very good support, even though they tended to be relatively underpowered - the pixelbook isn't so I wouldn't expect support to stop anytime soon.

I don't know if it counts as speculation when a number of outlets are reporting on 'roadmap cutbacks,' including asking employees in the Pixel group to look for other roles. [1]

Is it 100% confirmed? No, but that's part of the brand trust referenced in the original post: where there's smoke, there is probably fire, and it would be beneficial to brand trust if Google provided a longer-term roadmap for these products.

Before someone comments "Why doesn't Apple need that type of roadmap?": because Apple has the hardware brand trust that, say, the iPhone isn't going to go away next year simply because the engineers working on it wanted to create an iMessage competitor.

[1] https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2019/03/13/google-h...

The entire point of the original article is that Google's constant killing of products makes everyone fear what will be next, bc even seemingly popular products get killed off for little to no reason. The entire point of this article is that Google's own actions are fanning the flames of this speculation.

> you get a company that throws stuff at the wall to see if it sticks, and if it doesn't kills it immediately.

I would love if they followed this strategy. Instead, you have products like reader and inbox with many passionate users, which demonstrate some wall stickiness, and they're killed rather than monetized.

Monetize me. I recognize that the things I like cost money. Figure out how to make money off me! I would have accepted ads in reader or inbox. Hell, I would have paid dollars to make those ads go away even.

The metric you need to keep in mind here is revenue per employee. Keeping one product up and running necessarily means withholding engineers from another. As an extreme example, ads engineers make Google many times their salary, benefits, and ephemeral costs, and even non-revenue-generating services like Photos and Assistant indirectly drive traffic to the money makers.

Meanwhile, consider Reader. A product with only a couple million users, mostly pointy-headed techie types, that doesn’t drive business to any money-making effort, with no alignment with any stategic effort, that could be reimplemented by a particularly talented and hardworking high school senior, staffed by about a dozen engineers. That product will be the first on the chopping block, if only to encourage those engineering resources to find more profitable employment.

> Meanwhile, consider Reader. A product with only a couple million users, mostly pointy-headed techie types, that doesn’t drive business to any money-making effort,

And this is exactly the problem about Google! They only care about direct metrics: Product A generates only x million $ per year -> it must be canceled.

But what those direct metrics do not show is the long term trust which is destroyed by such short-term behavior.

Google has proved again and again that they are not a reliable company and because of this I will never ever spend any money on any of their products (apart from a cheap android phone every 3 years).

Why should I pay for Google Drive? Why should I pay for Youtube Red (or whatever its called nowadays)? Why should I buy a Chromebook? If I start rely on them they will be canceled after a year.

They might have saved a few million dollar by axing Google Reader but they lost _me_ as a customer forever.

> And this is exactly the problem about Google! They only care about direct metrics: Product A generates only x million $ per year -> it must be canceled.

Microsoft doesn't consider a product unless it can generate more than $100M a year.

It's a general mode of operation for big companies, not limited to Google.

Uh, but Microsoft is more conservative in both launching and canceling products. If MSFT said "Access can now do all the things that spreadsheets were used for so we're dropping Excel" the streets would be aflame with the protests of millions.

I also think this is a place where MSFT's application first (not app) development strategy shines. There are still folks out there running Excel98 and you can feel free to try and pry it out of their cold uncaring hands, they will fight you for it.

Don't launch and offer BS you're not going to support!

How much money do you think AWS loses still supporting old deprecated services like running EC2 instances outside of a VPC and SimpleDB?

I’m not aware of a single feature on AWS that has ever been abandoned.

I don't think they lose any money at all. They pass the entirety of those costs onto customers.

That's why, for example, newer EC2 instance types cost less than older ones: whenever they decide to cut their margins to increase volume, they essentially do it across-the-board first, and then they back up and increase the costs for the legacy instances to reflect their increasing support burden. (It just happens to look like the legacy instances hovering at a static pricing while the modern instances get cheaper.)

Also keep in mind that when you're selling B2B SaaS, legacy services are mostly kept around because there are big enterprise accounts that pay to keep them around. If there are only three customers left on non-VPC deployments, but one of those customers is IBM, you're not going to pull the plug.

I don't think they lose any money at all. They pass the entirety of those costs onto customers.

If that’s the case, that’s a business model I’m all for. Charge people enough money to make your product sustainable instead of just trying to gain a lot of users and hope you will figure it out later. Of course even then you have to have enough scale to cover the fix costs and offer it a price to make it affordable, but don’t start off thinking the answer to everything is advertising.

I don't know of any service that was dropped on either of AWS or GCP. Features are dropped though, they can't be ordered from new accounts then they disappear eventually.

I don't think that you can order older instances, or run instances outside of a VPC, not sure if non-HVM AMI are still supported.

AWS has a strategy of leaving offerings to rot and making a new thing that you have to migrate to yourself. For example, the 3 different types of reserved instances or ELB vs ALB. It has its pros and cons. Google has less products that are more capable and feature complete.

They are both rather new and creating new products instead of removing products, it will take one more decade to see how they handle depreciation of core products, when any actually gets retired.

You can't run EC2 instances outside of a VPC if you have a new account. If you have a very old account you still can and every now and then they announce a new feature that works with them.

Yet, for some reason Microsoft keeps updating calculator and notepad in Windows.

Really? I'm on windows 10 and I couldn't tell you what they've changed in notepad - did they fix legacy mac EOL support (i.e. `\r`)?

Yes, they did fix the line-endings for both Mac and Unix files.


Oh, well that's nice and helpful. Good for them!

It probably adds almost no value to the product they're selling (nobody is buying windows for notepad, and anyone with serious notepadding to do gets a real editor) but it's a nice thing to do.

How much direct revenue does WSL generate? Or VSCode?

I feel this is a sort of corporate Dutch Disease. Highly profitable sectors drive out investment in the rest.

I get this, but then why even launch if there's no vision at all beyond cancel it in a couple years since they're not willing to even try to drive new revenue with these? No profits, burnt goodwill—cynically, I wonder, is it just make-work to keep restless engineers happy and out of the arms of potential upstarts and competitors?

Cool cool, if that's what you must do. Google can go on making piles of cash with their money engines and on the side, going through an elaborate game of charades as if they were making real products so they can figure out who gets get a promotion for best pretending to create anything of actual value.

But, I'm going to ignore all Google product launches and treat them as the mistimed april fools jokes they are.

For people (like me) who hadn't heard of Dutch Disease:

"In economics, the Dutch disease is the apparent causal relationship between the increase in the economic development of a specific sector (for example natural resources) and a decline in other sectors (like the manufacturing sector or agriculture)."


I disagree.

Google killing Reader was very shortsighted because they’ve hurt the open web in an effort to promote Google+. And it was all an effort to promote Google+, nothing more.

Reader was perfect the way it was and could have been left unmaintained. Don’t tell me that Google couldn’t spare an intern for the occasional fix.

And I don’t have any numbers however I’m willing to bet that Reader was, as a social network, far more popular and active than Google+ ever was.

Also such metrics don’t count the brand damage. I will never forgive Google for killing Reader and as a result I have rejected again and again Google’s products. Even at work I just convinced everyone that we must not depend on Google’s Firebase because we can’t trust Google.

> Reader was perfect the way it was and could have been left unmaintained.

Google products like Reader tend to use internal APIs for storage, authentication, request routing, deployment, logging, builds/tests, etc. It can be a lot of work just to keep up with those internal changes.

It was actually worse than that - Google+ used Reader as a backend. A lot of the stream-merging and ingestion features of Google+ were built on top of the Reader codebase. That meant that when Google+ product needs changed and they needed to alter the backend, they couldn't really do so without branching & disentangling or shutting down the external-facing Reader product. The latter was a much easier course for a time-constrained engineering organization, particularly since Reader as a project had been de-staffed and the engineers (that didn't leave the company) transferred to the Google+ org.

FANG interns aren't coffee-runners; you can't give them work you wouldn't give to a real junior engineer. First: doing so undermines your efforts to recruit the intern. Second: doing so undermines your efforts to evaluate the intern. Third: doing so wastes a valuable eng resource you could deploy on something worth launching!

The real problem for Reader was that it wasn't worth any engineering effort (because it only had a couple of million daily active users).

If I were an intern at Google and it was my job to maintain Reader I would be ecstatic. Hell, I'd happily do it now as a senior engineer. Why would I rather do a bunch of bullshit on a product nobody cares about when I can work on something I know people deeply love? Can you think of something that would have a larger impact than maintaining Reader?

This mentality is entirely the reason why large corporations can never do anything apart from their core business, and why they always spend billions acquiring startups (which usually fail to integrate into their business). They just fundamentally are incapable of creating anything new, and when they somehow do it the incentives are so misaligned they shut it down and the only thing they get for their efforts is making the public rightfully hate them.

I used Google Reader and Google Notebook. Since they discontinued both, I avoid committing to any new Google products - I don't want to rely on a company I consider unreliable. I even stopped using Firebase after they were acquired by Google. I wonder if they have any metric for that - can they measure how much business they lose because of the trust damage?

> staffed by about a dozen engineers

That's part of the problem. You should be able to leave Reader unstaffed for as long as it isn't strategic (it's not as if borg has trouble keeping the tasks up), but in practice it will randomly fail because somebody in infra went for promo, so every project faces a choice: staff this indefinitely or kill it now.

This comment makes it sound as if you don't think generating massive amounts of goodwill among your most passionate customer base "drives business." Google Reader was the loss leader that drove me deeply into Google's whole suite of applications and made me a paying customer of theirs.

What if they tried the novel concept of charging users for stuff? How many people liked Reader enough to pay for it if they had started charging?

Google reader is the one that kills me. Not only do they not monetize it / promote it, but it's Google subsidized free existence killed the market for alternatives. Then Google+ and their failed social efforts killed Reader and RSS feeds have now disappeared from the landscape leaving us with only proprietary options.

> it's Google subsidized free existence killed the market for alternatives

Did it? IIRC, there were at least six decent alternatives available when Reader closed. More if you count desktop and mobile applications.

I tested a few that appeared from the ashes. Ended up not liking most of them but eventually found bazqux and pay them money.

I switched to Feedly the day they announced the shutdown because it could import from Reader, looked like Reader, and used a lot of the same shortcuts. Is bazqux better?

Haven't used Feedly, but I was a hardcore Google Reader user, and I _love_ BazQux Reader. It does exactly what I need - shows RSS, has APIs that allow mobile apps to hook in, is fast, and it _just works_. Totally worth the $20/yr, and I'm amazed more folks don't talk about it.

I found the way Feedly handles scrolling to be aggravating to the point where I couldn't use it.

The Old Reader is great, but it doesn't have a mobile app. For a while, I ended up having accounts with both The Old Reader and Feedly, so I could use The Old Reader on desktop and GReader (a Feedly client) on mobile.

The Old Reader is compatible with a number of 3rd party clients, including GReader.

Ah thanks. It's been a while since I've used RSS, though... I eventually gave up after a while.

Google is in a unique position there: I often will avoid adding a new small service that I might like because I don't want to add another small payment I have to manage. With Google, I'm already paying them for storage and Youtube. I wouldn't think nearly as hard about adding a new Google service as I do others.

Streaming game services, not so much.

Yes. The game industry is very reluctant to use Improbable's Spatial OS, because, through a deal with Google, they force you to host your game, expensively, on Google's servers.[1] Nobody wants to spend $100 million developing an AAA title using that system, and then suddenly get an email that Google is discontinuing the product.

(Spatial OS is technically interesting, and, hopefully, someone else will do something like it, with reasonable licensing terms.)

[1] https://massivelyop.com/2018/01/12/chronicles-of-elyria-is-d...

I'm pretty sure the hope is that this will lead to the development of a parallel track of game developers who make games that would otherwise be too difficult or expensive to make on old platforms.

It makes sense on paper: latency isn't an issue because Google's network is excellent. The browser is a widespread and powerful distribution network which gives you access to both desktop and mobile. The cost of development should be lower because you don't need to buy expensive development kits and licenses/certifications.

My personal view is that this isn't a technical problem but rather a bizdev problem, and Google's approach to solving things tends to be "throw out some tech and hope people use it," which is straight up not going to work with investment-heavy industries like games.

Didn't know SpatialOS was attached specifically to Google Cloud. This seems like a risky business move, people should've learned from the fine example of companies built exclusively on the Facebook platform by now.

https://www.hadean.com/ is presumably a direct competitor to SpatialOS then, I take it? And it's tied to Azure, I believe.

Hadean looks interesting. But there's no documentation available, just hype. Their demo was big, but very simple - it's a FPS in space. They demoed Hadean on Azure, but it's not clear that it's tied to Azure.

The problem is basically distributed cache coherence. You have many small data objects shared between a large number of machines. Often, one needs access to an object on another machine. How do you do that efficiently.

Spatial OS seems to work kind of like a multiprocessor cache.[1] Two machines can have read-only copies of an object. If one copy is changed, the other has to be updated. Performance is better if you don't have to do that too much. They use the fact that they're representing a 3D world to advantage. If something is geographically nearby, they try to keep it on the same machine. To load balance, they will cut up overloaded regions into smaller regions and apply more machines to them, or combine underutilized regions to free up compute resources. This is a rough understanding from reading the documents.

No idea how Hadean does it. The site doesn't say much. It's one of those "onboarding funnel" sites - no info for you until the marketing people have all your info.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache_coherence#Coherence_mech...

I was having a hard time finding the statement that SpatialOS can't run apart from Google Cloud, but they do not allow self-hosting, meaning you are tied to wherever they put their servers which is Google according to the parent's source.

I suspect Hadean is similar, they've listed Microsoft as a partner, and presumably it's a cloud service that they are offering, so wherever they host it is where you get it, you're never directly dealing with the cloud provider or it's billing.

It's plausible, arguably, that both could shift to alternate cloud providers if they wanted, but I get them impression their customers have no choice in the matter.

Also, they do get a little further into the weeds, but it's hidden behind a hamburger menu: https://www.hadean.com/developer/how-to-get-started-with-aet... though a code example without access to the library or cloud service isn't a whole lot of use for testing out!

I was having a hard time finding the statement that SpatialOS can't run apart from Google Cloud

Search with keywords "improbable google deal". First result [1]: "Improbable is also announcing a strategic partnership with Google, the first part of which will see Google providing its Google Cloud Platform as the backend powering the service."


Game servers typically don't last more than a few years, even for an AAA game. They pretty much never last a whole decade outside of major MMORPG.

It's a bit surprising that the game industry would be scared of GCP going bust, given the short release cycle of the industry.

> then suddenly get an email that Google is discontinuing the product.

Google is unlikely to discontinue GCP

The list of discontinued things that people said that about is getting longer by the day. That's kind of the point here.

It may be that GCP isn't going anywhere, but when our organization was choosing a cloud service, we chose Amazon over Google specifically because of Google's flakiness. Google could drop cloud services tomorrow, and it would not be out of character.

We are in the same boat. My boss came to me last week saying he had lunch with a friend that just moved their services all to GCP and got big savings. But we just recently were impacted by the sudden, unexpected Maps 14x price increase.

Similar drastic changes happened to AppEngine, where Google let it rot for something like a year with increasing, extremely bad, latencies and then a sudden very large pricing model shift that made it much more expensive. I was an early adopter of AppEngine, and just can't imagine ever screwing around with Google cloud technology ever again.

We got stuck there too, moving away everything to alternatives. Just analytics left to remove now.

I can’t share with you how much GCP is making in revenue, but I can assure you it’s enough that it won’t get dropped, ever. I’ll put my money where my mouth is: I’m now preparing to expand my own team’s operations into GCP and away from AWS because of how good their ML offerings are.

Maybe the core product won't go away, but you could still see the damage from this approach in features or services you depend on within GCP. Not to mention Google's love for mixing around interfaces every five seconds (with poor documentation of course).

Consistency and reliability matter more than flashy new tech. I wish the culture at Google would understand that.

People were saying this about Google+ for years. "It's a 'bet the company' level of commitment."

Yet here we are.

Maybe from the outside it seemed that way, but from the inside just about everyone except Vic Gundotra and his org, no one considered it a serious contender. Just about everyone I know knew Google+ was misguided and orthogonal to the business, meanwhile the consensus internally is that GCP is an obvious extension of the infrastructure work that is going to get done anyway.

> No one expects an instant success. But even if this week’s launch evokes snark or yawns, Google will keep at it. Google+ is not a product like Buzz or Wave where the company’s leaders can chalk off a failure to laudable ambition and then move on. “We’re in this for the long run,” says Ben-Yair. “This isn’t like an experiment. We’re betting on this, so if obstacles arise, we’ll adapt.”

> “I don’t really see what Google’s alternative is,” says Smarr. “People are going to be a fundamental layer of the internet. There’s no going back.”

From Inside Google+, published in Wired Magazine in 2011. As the article mentions, Google started dismantling Google+ in 2014. Three years appears to be the upper limit of their patience for "the long run". https://www.wired.com/2011/06/inside-google-plus-social/

So what you're saying is that when an organization is considering using a Google product, it needs to track down some Google employees and speak with them privately, to see if the company is really serious about supporting it?

Just about everyone I know knew Google+ was misguided and orthogonal to the business

I agree with that, but even so, the company leadership bought into Google+ in a big way, for a long time. It's incorrect to say it didn't have a huge effect on the company's direction and (perhaps indirectly) on just about every developer working there.

the consensus internally is that GCP is an obvious extension of the infrastructure work that is going to get done anyway.

Why then is it so far behind AWS in feature set and market share? Google's data centers and internal infrastructure were way ahead of the competition for years, but they were slow and reluctant to open them up.

When you "bet the company", you are committing to making it your business. It's a plan to pivot to that being the most important thing you do.

FYI, GCP can't be dropped tomorrow because of legal/toc. Even dropping/changing non-beta features requires a looooong notification period (think 1+ year). Enterprise customers really like to secure their bases.

Source: Xoogler

It is general true for any big organization. In my own firm, I could see the rush into machine learning direction as a door way to a promotion. Any engineer or PM who works on a ML related project and is able to ship it would have a higher chance of getting promoted. I could also say the same for the usage of AWS products. In the end, I often see projects resembling the messy mashup of AWS products to form a unnecessary complex ML solution to a mosquito problem. It’s a waste yes, but sure will make it looks challenging and boost people to promotions.

I increasingly see this as the next level of alienation from work-product.

Carpenter makes and sells chairs to people who need chairs, farmer grows and sells apples to people who want apples.

Then there's the line worker making just chair legs for people they'll never meet, and the farmer selling their entire apple crop to a big company that'll do who-knows-what with them—sell them, turn them into apple sauce, use them as input to some process that turns out a "natural ingredient" that's some pure, extracted chemical contained in the apples.

Then there's the sort of crap we're talking about here. Projects that obviously never should have existed in the first place, and/or that would have been better if done in a simpler, faster, cheaper way, but a ton of make-work was thrown in due to agency problems and perverse incentives.

How much of the benefit of computers is being eaten by this kind of thing? The most effective things we do with them may provide 1000x the economic output of that apple farmer, or more, but then we spend a bunch of time doing useless or negative-value stuff, without even getting into a lot of the actually-lucrative work having large negative externalities—spyware-enabled advertising, say, or even just advertising, full stop. What does it do to someone's psyche to spend 90+% of their time doing harmful or useless stuff? Hell some people end up doing nothing of actual value for years on end. What are we doing?

>This is also why GMail, YouTube, Search, GCP, Android, and others aren’t going anywhere. They’re making money, they’re core to the business, and there’s plenty of opportunity to work on them and get promoted. They all also share one thing in common: deep down they’re frontends for search or advertising (GCP and Apps are an exception because they make money on their own). Measuring and proving impact on search numbers is a well-known promo narrative at Google, so those products are a safe bet for employees and users. Streaming game services, not so much.

This, right here is the key, and what I think most people miss, including the original article. Hell, I missed it myself for a long time: Google is not a platform company as the original article asserts. They are an advertising company. That is Google's bread and butter, and has been since day one. The products and platforms that stick around do so because they are or become successful funnels or front ends for advertising.

As much as the tech culture of the Internet loves to bitch about advertising (myself included), unto itself, it is not a solely an evil thing. Oh, it absolutely can be turned to evil ends; see any of a myriad complaints about Facebook. However, I think the pairing of ads with search has been damn useful in a way that balances with the potential for evil. As an example, when I'm searching for specific lubricating grease for my bicycle's bearings, I very much appreciate seeing an ad for a vendor who's willing to sell me a single tube thereof, instead of having only the web search listings of vendors who require a minimum order size of 1 shipping pallet. Google did right paring advertising with search. To use a 'corporate bullshit' word, Search and ads synergize well.

The froth of Google's other products and platforms makes more sense when looked at in that light. A company that sits still will eventually get passed by someone else who correctly sensed changes in the market and business environment, and thus eventually die. So of course Google is going to be trying to come up with all manner of things that leverage the Internet and their massive infrastructure; one of those may well be the next big thing that funnels more money in to advertising. No small part of this is that Google employs a great many nerds like you and I, people who have no trouble inventing cool new things you can do on the Internet. But sadly, a great many of those cool things don't fit well with Google's advertising-based business model, as evidenced by the constant product froth.

Advertising is not evil, but I prefer business models that involve me giving companies my money and them giving me stuff.

Is this basically why things like Inbox, and the endless attempts at messaging, all come out as seperate products rather than enhancements to existing products, because that way you get to say you launched something new?

IMO yes: the promotion culture (technical complexity, impact) push people to come up with Big Ideas.

The thing with Big Ideas, is that they're often iterations of existing ideas, but just different enough that you can make a case for a fresh start. (And who doesn't want a greenfield project) Plus, the cost of experimentation is far less while you're not supporting a massive userbase.

To be perfectly honest I don’t know the answer to the chat app case in particular. That’s possible, and if one were to investigate and find each app was made by a team rolling up into a different director then I’d say that’s what happened. However it’s entirely possible that it was caused by an overly complex market segmentation strategy.

WhatsApp had the advantage of growing slowly and segmenting their users with time to experiment and tweak things. The Google chat apps came out at once, and it’s possible there were so many because they tried to come up with a working segmentation for all addressable users from day one instead of growing organically and grabbing each segment one at a time.

That's consistent with my own experience at Google. It's not that working on improving a thing isn't rewarded, but it's just much easier to demonstrate impact when you can use the word "launched" in your self-assessment Launching is in itself an accomplishment, while optimizing requires you to also collect data, do analysis on the data, and show a positive impact. "Impact" here is one of the buzzword categories that goes into an assessment of your performance as an employee.

This went into my decision not to accept a Google offer. AMP is a product that should not exist in the first place. Everything AMP does could be done in other ways—having Google Search measure load time, improving load times, working on webpackages as step 1 instead of an afterthought, etc. But because AMP is a coherent, well-defined product, and Google rewards launching it over accomplishing the same goals in less-obvious ways, the person behind AMP was incentivized to go that route for the sake of his own career at Google, and ruined the internet for the rest of us.

I didn't want to be subject to those engineering standards.

Ehh, I disagree with your assessment, and to illustrate why I think you need to focus on asblockers.

AMP serves a critical strategic purpose: it severely disincentivizes crappy, JS-heavy websites on search results and as a result makes people less likely to install adblockers. Google is terrified of adblockers going mainstream, to the point where they’re willing to risk anticompetitive suits by creating their own. AMP is a part of the effort to prevent that from happening.

That's an interesting viewpoint and makes a lot of sense, but still - why couldn't Google have accomplished this goal through web search policies? Have the crawler say that if it sees JavaScript with certain behavior it will be de-prioritized compared to a similar website with less annoying JavaScript. Which, to some extent, you get just by focusing on load time: if the crawler emulates a normal browser and measures the time until everything has rendered, it'd be able to penalize annoying JS ads that block loading. Or if it emulates a normal browser and indexes text rendered on the screen, it'd be able to penalize sites that display a pop-over ad that you have to interact with.

(Would that have been more prone to an antitrust lawsuit than AMP?)

I don’t want to speculate too much on the legals of the situation, so I won’t talk about anticompetitive matters.

As for why not do this in indexing, of course they’re doing that. They’ve been doing that for a very long time, but that approach can only go so far. There’s a constant cat and mouse game between websites and search providers, and AMP is a way to end it once and for all.

It’s important to stress that the motivation here is largely user-focused. People tend to ascribe to Google these shady Oracle-like motivations around screwing users and developers, but the truth is that moves like this are largely motivated by a desire to improve the experience. Not out of any sort of altruism, mind you, but because what’s good for the user is generally good for Google.

I'm not ascribing Google a motivation of wanting to screw over users and developers. I'm ascribing Google-as-a-whole the motivation of wanting to improve the experience because that's good for Google's bottom line, and Google-as-individual-employees the motivation of wanting to do that by shipping new products instead of shipping improvements because that's good for their personal bottom line. Neither of these are shady. They are both individually rational decisions. You don't become Google because you altruistically want to help people without profit; you don't work for Google for that reason, either. You work for Google because you want to do interesting work while being paid well.

I think Google made lots of mistakes with AMP that will be long-term harmful for the web, but I don't think they were malicious in doing so—they made genuine mistakes that it just so happens they wouldn't have been incentivized to make if there were no individual pressure to ship products.

I'm just saying that this pressure exists, and that I personally don't want to be subject to it.

I think you're being too generous. The usability of AMP sites on an iPhone is utter garbage with their extra address bar and broken scrolling. It's not necessary to break scrolling in order to create fast loading websites, in fact, quite the opposite. It's clear that users were a very low priority here.

Google's only obligation is to its shareholders. AMP serves its interests. So does building covert search engines to help root out chinese dissidents.

That 'cat and mouse' game is the natural order of things. There is no stopping that other than making things anti-competitive which is what Alphabet clearly wants to do.

Google has become evil and we should expect nothing less from a multibillion dollar conglomerate like Alphabet. This isnt the Google we grew up with. This is the publically traded company Alphabet which will do anything to increase their bottom line whether its ruining the internet with things like AMP or selling search services used to imprison chinese citizens.

Google should be ashamed of itself. Would never take a job at a company like Alphabet. It conflicts with my sense of ethics and morality.

What is a "company like Alphabet"? Can any company of the size and scale of Alphabet, or aiming to be such one day, avoid these pressures? Why isn't this the Google we grew up with, given that this is what Google was growing up to be all along?

A serious question is whether a young company in roughly the state Google was in the early '00s can reasonably commit to never becoming a multibillion-dollar conglomerate.

Probably not. I think going public ruins the ability of such a company to maintain a moral compass. It certainly vanquished any idea of maintaining their 'don't be evil' motto.

They simply could have committed not to becoming a publicly traded company. I know every YC investor looks at going public as the end all be all for every company on earth but I think the pursuit of the public market at all costs mindset typically espoused by communities like this one is morally devoid and obviously has long term consequences in the tech community at large.

Go public at all costs is the mindset here and in most VC communities. Make money at all costs is really what they mean to say. Get rid of that mindset.

Google used to have a moral compass. That was the Google I grew up with. Before all the pressures of being a publicly traded multibillion-dollar conglomerate got to them and now they are basically no better than ATT.

If every YC investor looks at going public and only one has ever gone public, they were looking in the wrong direction. Most VC funded companies either get acquired or go bust.

Measuring load times and ranking sites that way produces a relative ordering of fast and relevant sites. (Slow sites can still do well if they're faster than other sites.) Making sites implement AMP absolutely ensures that the site is fast.

Disclaimer: I work at Google, but not on any AMP related stuff.

> AMP serves a critical strategic purpose: it severely disincentivizes crappy, JS-heavy websites on search results and as a result makes people less likely to install adblockers.

The slowest, most resource-intensive web sites I visit are, in order: Slack, GMail, and Google Play Music. If Google wants others to take web performance seriously, they should start with their own internal stuff.

Are Slack, GMail, Google Play Music websites or web applications? AMP is not applicable to sites/applications that remain open in your tabs all the time. I think it's more applicable to pages you open, consume the information and close the tab in couple of minutes.

Disc: Googler but nowhere close to AMP.

Let's say Google Maps then. It will show up in search results, artificially at the top because of close integration, but performs incredibly poorly. I can't take their claims about AMP being about performance seriously when they do not seem to make any attempt at optimizing the stuff that they put on top.

Sorry missed this. I don't consider Google Maps a website as well. Specially not a static website that AMP is targetting. You move around in maps, give it input and it gives you a different output.


Please don't do this here.

This is not the only example. I never ceases to amaze me that Google dropped XMPP because of non-mobile-friendliness and it was proven wrong by a single developer (see: Conversations.im).

It seems in a lot of cases Google just want to go on an easy route of creating fake "standards" (AMP) instead of long way of working with broader community for common good.

Maybe that's just me but the Google I remember back when Android was announced and the company it has become now it's like two totally different entities.

I think Google doesn't care for most services as they do not depend on any of those. Sure Android, GMail, and YouTube will stay, because they serve their core business: ads. Everything else could be over at any time. This is supported by their recent push for China. Suddenly employee voices aren't worth anything anymore (remember the drone story, that was over after employees pushed back). Maybe they have realised by now that diversification isn't that bad after all and will continue to push GCP but I wouldn't want to bet on GCP's life-span.

I am willing to bet on GCP's life-span - it will be around for 10 more years at least. What would you like to bet for?

GCP in its current form, though?

In 10 years, will you have to choose between the deprecated version and the version that doesn't work yet?

> Usually an organization starts with a top-down direction and the rest of the company is compensated for executing it. Not at Google. The "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach that developed from the early days of twenty percent time and total engineering independence has created a disorganized mess of a company. Multiply the individual incentives fifty thousand times and you get a company that throws stuff at the wall to see if it sticks, and if it doesn't kills it immediately.

This is also why we had a botched rollout of Material Design across Google's apps following the release of Lollipop.

Apps rolled out Material redesigns whenever, often months and sometimes even years after Lollipop's launch. Apps used various different versions of the Material support library: the Drive Apps in particular had text and widget alignment issues that made them look very unlike the other Material apps. And for a while, I was tracking which apps exhibited correct behavior of the status bar and the hamburger menu, because there were multiple ways apps could implement each one, but only one correct way (ironically enough, I was doing so in a Google Doc) [0].

To me, this is an awful way to roll out your new company-wide branding initiative. You want a new brand to be consistent across all your products and rolled out simultaneously. In retrospect, it was the moment when I began to lose faith in Google as a company.

Some time after that, somebody explained to me why, and it was exactly as you said: engineering groups operate independently of each other with no top-down chain of command. There's nobody telling them "you have to roll out the new branding by this date", "you have to make sure you're following these company-wide standards", etc. Basically, I was told that at Google, "company-wide" isn't a thing that exists. And that's awful. And honestly, it makes me never want to work for Google. That kind of chaos is exactly the opposite of the kind of working environment I could thrive in.

[0] Correct behavior: status bar is a darker shade of the toolbar's color, the hamburger menu covers the screen from top to bottom with the status bar as a translucent overlay on top of the menu bar, and the hamburger icon doesn't animate at all while you drag the menu out. Following Lollipop, there were Material apps that broke every one of those rules, but in completely different combinations from app to app.

How common are career ambition incentives like this, among engineers (not middle management) right now? It sounds like, in Google's case, it's very intentional.

Other than the job-hopping that I started hearing about when dotcom IPOs started, engineers, from what I (perhaps naively) understood of my anecdotal experience, seemed to mostly just like to do engineering, and/or also had a sense of obligation to their project/team/duty.

About the worst I recall hearing about would be an engineer picking a language/tool because they wanted to learn it or add it to their resume, rather than because it made the most sense for corporate goals for the project.

Not necessarily common, but the ambitious engineers are the ones who get promoted and they're the ones who get to set the technical direction. So the incentives on offer to (over-)ambitious people are very important.

Facebook operates similarly. They created a culture of working on things that interest you as long as it can show meaningful impact. If you can show maintenance of something impactful, then you can work on it.

It's really no different in the startup world. If your startup can't show growth in users or profits, then you shutdown.

Probably also explains why their messaging strategy is completely incomprehensible too. I still have no idea what apps do what, which ones provide video or audio or text or both.

I have a hangouts and voice app on my phone and they appear to have duplicate functionality. I’m not joking — I receive the same notifications on both.

I was super pleased the other day when I needed to fall back on a personal device to join a meeting via GSuite and realized that because it was a meetup my hangouts app didn't work for it.

I also enjoy that calendar is also a separate and distinct thing so it's possible for me to get three notifications for a single meeting.

Now that's what I call usability and a solid product! If only they could improve this experience by raising the price of their business suite by 20% then I'd be really tickled!

I have Google Assistant app but to change settings I must use Google app but some settings like volume, room etc. could be controlled via Google Home app.

In my experience at a different FANG, the same culture exists here. If I had to guess, I would say it probably applies to the others as well.

It definitely doesn't apply to Netflix. You can get good raises and promotions by optimizing an existing process. If you can show improvement in internal metrics, such as improving latency or lowering cost, that's a huge win. Even if you increase costs you can get a raise and promotion if you show that it increased code quality, such as creating the Chaos Monkey/Gorilla/Kong.

I guess it helps that Netflix essentially has one product.

Yes that probably helps a lot. Also they don’t hire fresh college grads, so you generally have less of the “wow this was clearly written by a junior engineer” type of maintenance. The low hanging fruit is mostly picked when it comes to architecture and optimization.

I work at Amazon and I don't believe that applies here. There certainly is an expectation that you can coordinate increasingly broad efforts as you rise through the ranks, but the focus isn't on launching new products (in my experience). Impact can be anything that is positive and measurable. At the end of the day if you make the company $1million then it doesn't really matter where you do it.

Oh just go ahead an name Facebook.

The irony, is that this pattern at FB and and Big G isn’t indicative of a good engineering culture. It’s pathological engineering.

This mindset is commonplace in most of the jobs I've held in the last 10 years. Personal gain trumps morals, company values, and even company performance. It's what happens when you put a bunch of high-performers in a box and let them play the corporate ladder game.

It's better than the situation at most companies I have been at: It's basically the personal gain trumps all, but without the actual results. You just have a bunch of populists that talk up a good game, but when it comes time to execute or actually launch something, they are the last person you really want at the helm, but because they have built up a reputation with the higher ups, they are impossible to displace.

From my perspective, this appears to be the situation of most "Health IT" corps and VP of Engineering and above. I've since "sold out" and moved to a digital marketing firm, but in many ways the work here is much more honest than what happened at places I worked at in the name of "health"

I think that's a bit of an unfair way to characterize what's going on here. In fact, it's Google's values (as expressed through internal incentives) that govern this process. If the company wanted people to, say, make X better rather than killing it and launching a completely new X, all it would have to do is reward that rather than setting up a system that punishes it through reduced career growth.

GMail, YouTube, Search, GCP, Android, and others...deep down they’re frontends for search or advertising... Streaming game services, not so much.

Streaming games has tremendous potential synergy with advertising. Games are yet another form of media, after all. There is obvious tremendous potential synergy with YouTube. Also, if one can stream games, then why not stream other kinds of applications? There's tremendous opportunities for synergies there as well.

Basically identical to youtube. Forget putting AAA games on it, imagine a massively improved version of the flash games that were popular a decade ago.

Forget putting AAA games on it, imagine a massively improved version of the flash games that were popular a decade ago.

I wouldn't be so confident about AAA games being a barrier. I guess AAA games emphasizing "realism" might always have a high-end PC niche, since the genre could always ramp up graphics to the point of un-streamability. I could also totally imagine, let's say, Nintendo, going whole-hog into streaming games with cartoony graphics, emphasizing multiplayer with friends. I don't see any reason why the industry couldn't target and achieve something like 30 ms round trip latency. So long as the gameplay is good, the potential audience for 1080P gaming with even last generation level graphics is huge.

To think they would be limited to the level of flash games is hugely naive.

I guess I was thinking more in terms of what's going to happen when you can literally play a game with the click of a button in a browser like you could in flash. My thought is there will be massive amounts of games flooding the market in much the same ways there are on mobile devices and the price will trend towards zero with microtransactions in the same fashion.

Ever seen Roblox?

Corporate political economy (ecology? anthropology?) is always pathological like this, one way or another. Seems inevitable, like factionalism and partisanship taking over parliamentary politics in every example we have.

That aside, it kind of makes sense that Google places this much emphasis on the revenue producing parts of the business.

On "what about new products and innovation" see the first point. While every corporate pathology is different (Google's flavour seems unique) a near-constant is doublespeak. There might be (or might have been) a logic behind it, it just gets communicated in corporate-speak because plain language is too harsh.

Ultimately, at Google's scale (like a VC) a meaningful innovation is >$1bn annual revenue or the equivalent of that. Not many projects have that kind of potential. Letting a thousand flowers bloom means letting 998.3 flowers die.

Any thoughts on whether Google Photos will stick around? I find it's far better than any alternatives I've come across, and the recent Inbox shutdown made me realize how "dependent" I am on it.

That’s gonna be an interesting one to watch.

Hosting the worlds photos costs many billions of dollars each year!

That said it’s a key driver to sell android phones (“infinite storage”)...so for the time being you will be good.

But then again according to information that came out during the Oracle lawsuit, they only made $36Billion from Android during its entire existence.

Just googled around and I'm guessing the terms allow google to use the photos and associated metadata which sounds to me like it would be hugely valuable. For ML research, search, advertising, etc. If Google knows where my photos were taken, what products are in the photo, what car, etc.

Yeah, people keep saying that...IMO its huge and risky bet to hope for some future way to leverage the meta data for ML

Cool for them, but that hurts my wallet. I never felt safe using google products, and the only one I paid for (adwords) decreased in quality, so...

Stupid question: why are Google engineers so obsessed with promotion? I'm sure any entry-level engineer there makes more than I ever have in my life, and anyone who hasn't cashed in their billion-dollar startup lottery ticket by now is far too late to the party to ever do so.

What exactly is the benefit of promotion? Is a 6-figure salary and all the perqs in the world not enough? At all the places I've worked, from tiny startups to big stable companies, I haven't seen this phenomenon. Does Google's rapid rise simply attract the sorts of people who feel they deserve it?

You could go from making $200k/yr to $400k/yr with one to two promotions.

It's a big jump and for people who live in an area where homes are regularly $2-4m (they're not even nice homes), you have to make big money in order to afford one.

I’m not sure I understand this perspective. If I’m making 100k, and I could be making 150k by being promoted, while working on interesting new things at the same time (regardless of success), then that is what I would be doing.

Little point in sticking at 100k my whole career for some misplaced sense of honor.

I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I’m curious about whether or not YouTube actually makes money. I was under the impression that on a good day it just about breaks even, but has that changed?

> Multiply the individual incentives fifty thousand times and you get a company that throws stuff at the wall to see if it sticks, and if it doesn't kills it immediately.

It sucks for some users but isn't it good for Google as a business? The way you describe it, it sounds like Google is internally approximating a free market to allocate resources. I understand the risk of damaging the brand but for a lot of new Google products, the only competition comes from startups which equally are a risky bet.

> As a group, Google engineers and PMs are obsessed with promotion. At the heart of every conversation about system design or product proposal lies an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) question: will working on this get me promoted?

> The criteria for promotion at Google, especially at the higher levels like SWE III -> Senior and especially at Senior -> Staff and above, explicitly talk about impact on the organization and the business.

Wow! Its exactly like my job at a my IT off-sourcing job. I am very surprised.

I totally agree that this is frustrating for erudite tech users, but I'd say calling Google a "disorganized mess of a company" is kinda stretching things. The last quarterly earnings for GOOG were up 21% year/year. That's pretty insane for a company of this size.

The way they operate is annoying when it's one of your favorite products that isn't pulling it's weight, but it's hard to argue that the strategy isn't sound.

To play devil's advocate, we don't know how sucessful they would be if they followed a more orderly model.

Not saying they wouldn't be, but it's entirely possible that they are successfull in spite of, not because of how they operate in much of the business. Given that the vast majority of their revenue comes from just one place, advertising, which seems to be run in a much more cautious manner, there is an argument that this might be the case.

They keep showing more and more (or bigger and bigger) ads. At some point, they'll hit the law of diminishing returns.

I'm disappointed I had to go this far down into the comments to read an actual sensible rebuttal. I stand by my calling it a disorganized mess, but you'll notice I never actually say this strategy isn't paying off for the company...

Agree that "disorganized mess" is a stretch. But pointing to a company's success doesn't make them immune to criticism either. My project often gets compared to a competing offering from Amazon. When discussing this with coworkers, I will point out the drawbacks and trade-offs of their design and why that's a WAY bigger deal for my company's customers than it is for the typical AWS user. "But they made $X last year". Yes. And we're less vulnerable to data loss. Thank you. Next.

Hmm, I’m thinking whether this is an example of Goodhart’s law (when a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure - the measure being the number of product launches) or “tragedy of the commons” (i.e. some sucker will do the maintenance, I’m going for the promotion!).

Either way, it’s frustrating as a user. I will never forgive them killing Google Reader.

Indeed that is also what I thought when reading the very relevant article from yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19541475

If so, why is YT (sampled randomly from your list) buggy as hell? Is it possible no-one at G noticed that (sampling randomly again) for example playlist shuffle does not work? How come this is not fixed?

Following OPs argument (I have no idea either way)

Someone got promoted for introducing playlist shuffle

Nobody gets promoted for fixing it

Note that whilst GMail, YouTube and Search might not be going anywhere they also are not being improved or developed upon. Just being kept running which is the same symptom

Well said, you always get what you optimize for.

> Maintenance engineering is so not-rewarded that it's become an inside joke


Thanks, but to you and any other GOOGLE EMPLOYEES

Are you not internally aware of this?

Do you just carry on regardless?

What happens when you voice this issue internally?

As an ex-Google fan boy, the title of this article has been true for years and it's what poisoned me (and no doubt many others) against you. So you must be aware of it.

What's your take?

I'm super curious as to why you gave up tech (brand) leadership so seemingly nonchalantly.

Xoogler here. Individual contributors are aware of it, but have very little to no power to change it. I left when I realized I would never make career progress due in large part to this incredibly restrictive advancement model. My partner, also an Xoogler, left for the same reason.

Google is big enough, and appealing enough as an employer, that it appears to be comfortable accepting this turnover as part of how it does business. Anyone who wants to change things leaves, or is "encouraged" to leave, and only those who buy wholly into the model stick around to get promoted. Then, since that method of promotion worked for them, they entrench and encourage it, and the cycle continues.

Google employees in an individual-contributor role have limited power to change this if they want to remain Google employees. They're subject to performance reviews on this system, and the expected value of any individual advocating for a change is so tiny, compared to the expected value of playing along with the system and getting their salary and bonus check. If you want this culture to change, you need the people signing the checks to feel compelled to change it.

The practical effect is likely to be people leaving Google because they can get rewarded for maintaining existing products elsewhere.

>Thanks, but to you and any other GOOGLE EMPLOYEES

> Are you not internally aware of this?

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his [exceptionally generous] salary [and RSUs, bonuses] depends upon his not understanding it!"

- Upton Sinclair (approximately)

Strangely, I would say many if not most Googlers understand this situation, and that it is bad. The rank and file are mostly unhappy with it.

But the rank and file can't change it.

It's bad for the company. It's bad for the industry. And it's a much more straightforward advancement model for the individual if they know how to exploit it. That's a very particular kind of "unhappy".

Getting promoted at Google requires serious gaming of the system, especially once you go for L5. Very few people in the system at L5 or below think it is easy to exploit, even if it is supposedly "straightforward".

Decision making is opaque, even if the process is technically well-documented. One committee isn't bound by what the previous committee decided and on and on.

And yes, I think quite a few of the rank and file are unhappy about it.

Complete outsider to that, but it's easy enough to figure - you would have to be promoted like 3-7 times under the current system before anyone would start to care about your opinion on things like that. Good luck ever finding someone who can be enough of a creature of the current system to be promoted that many times within it, yet still maintain the firm idea that it needs to be changed.

Oh everyone is aware of it. They have been making some changes to the promotion process to try to address it. But it's still a huge issue.

I'm not so sure about what the alternative is, though. The promotion process at other places I've worked was pretty much "does your boss like you? If so, they'll promote you." Which has a whole host of other issues. For instance you can get promoted for doing a mediocre job at maintenance work but being very friendly and likable.

On the other hand, you could be promoted for just doing a great job and being a fit for the new position without any hassle.

I feel people are underestimating the benefits of this simple structure.

Nobody would want to promote someone that will consistently make them look bad.

While this issue is not unique to Google, IMHO their hiring process exacerbates it further. From day -1 you're primed to game the interview racket; once you're in, why would your mentality suddenly change wrt to climbing the promotion ladder? Your incentives haven't changed.

Google as a company is worth almost $1T. It's hard to argue that's the wrong approach when they are so ridiculously successful.

How well is GCP doing compared to AWS and Azure?

How well is GSuite doing compared to MS Office?

How well is Android doing as far as revenue and profit compared to iOS? According to information that came out during the Oracle trial, Android has made Google less over 10 years than iOS makes Apple during a down quarter.

How well is G+ doing against FB?

Google hasn’t had but one successful revenue generating product - ads.

Amazon and Apple have similar market caps and yet don't have this product discombobulation

This comment is not without merit, and it's a good point. Everyone here is complaining about this, yet it's true: Google is still highly profitable. Would they be more profitable if they had a more seemingly-sensible management and weren't pissing people off with this behavior? It's impossible to say I think. Perhaps it eventually will bite them in the ass though, because it doesn't really seem like a good way to run a company long-term. But for now, it's definitely making the executives a lot of money, as well as many engineers.

I think all this does show how dysfunctional many human organizations are where chasing the new shiny is rewarded much more than keeping things stable and running correctly. Can you imagine if airplane manufacturers were run this way?

> why this keeps happening, you need to understand the product and engineering culture at Google. As a group, Google engineers and PMs are obsessed with promotion.

For people outside the San Francisco and Silicon Valley bubble which are confused by this, it may be worth noting that promotion here does not need mean getting a new job. Everyone are not constantly getting new jobs.

“Promotion” here means internal, magic Google-points and seem to work much like Chinese social credit.

Source: answer by Googler here on HN when I was confused about this very same thing.


Promotion means you get promoted to a higher level within Google[1]. This typically means you get more money[2], better opportunities, and more visibility.

People often do change jobs within Google/Alphabet after getting promoted. It's a signal that you're doing a good job, as verified by a promotion committee, and hiring managers will often look at a recent promotion as a signal that someone is a high-performer. But there are lots of folks who don't change jobs after a promotion (especially if you're happy with what you're doing) - it's an opportunity to keep doing what you're doing, just more of the same, with official recognition that you've been doing a good job.

1. Level 3 = SWE I - New Grad (Bachelors/Masters). Level 4 = SWE II (Newly minted PhDs start here). Level 5 = Senior SWE. Level 6 = Staff SWE. Level 7 = Senior Staff SWE. Level 8 = Principal SWE / Director.

2. This is not strictly true; a high-performer at Level N may make just as much as a low- or average-performer at Level N+1. But in practice you start to hit salary caps, and sustaining very high performance at Level N may be more difficult than sustaining average performance at Level N+1.

Closing inbox has really made me re-evaluate if I want to continue using Google for email, as the clusterf--- of garbage that Gmail has turned into for people with long-standing accounts is untenable. The kitchen-sink approach of gmail has created a website/app that wants to meet every need and honestly meets none.

In the next 24 hours or so I'll be forced from a clean and clear perfectly rolled up and ideal notifying Inbox back to the utterly uncontrollable insanity of Gmail. The "rollups" in Gmail don't work, the filtering is arcane and unchanged from the 2001-era, the "labels" are useless at intelligently combating spam/marketing, and my gmail inbox receives hundreds of emails a day, 0 of which I care about, and hundreds of which google desperately wants to mark important, put in my inbox, notify me about, and provide precisely 0 tools to intelligently control it.

My gmail is a nightmare of anxiety that no man could ever wrestle control over (while my Inbox is a delightful walk through an orderly park) and I am honestly just considering abandoning this gmail account.

Of course, this gmail account IS my google account, it IS my google existence.

If Google has broken email, their core app, my core account --- maybe it's time to leave.

I can't be the only one approaching Google this way. Sooner or later, they'll kill what you love about them, too.

I completely agree. Gmail doesn't seem to have that much customisation. I don't understand why the "Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums" are baked in without being able to customise them.

The Inbox bundles seem to be slightly renamed categories that Gmail has, but with the ability that they're always on the main page and being able to create your own. Why couldn't this be easily ported back over to Gmail and tweaked with user config?

In Inbox I had a "Mailing List" bundle that had all my techy subscriptions and when I had free time I could see them. I could easily mark the entire bundle as read.

I'm tempted to start using one of my domains as my email address and point it at a different provider, but I'll see how Gmail fares over the next few months.

Oh God, the "updates" tab has eaten so many important emails. It won't trigger push notifications, and I don't always remember to check it when I open the page. I still don't understand what the category was supposed to be, but it's main purpose seemed to be to hide important (but automated) emails. I took the plunge and switched to protonmail w/ a custom domain. It's not perfect, and I'm looking at other options, but it's still far better than Gmail. I also moved from gsuite back to MS Office, since I have more faith in the continued stability and it isn't 100% reliant on cloud. Keeping a windows VM around is a definite annoyance, but switching away from Gmail was actually surprisingly easy. The old Gmail address is set to forward all, since I'm still updating accounts as I go, but 3 months in and no real problems. Plus, with email tied to my domain it's far easier to switch providers at this point, if I felt really ambitious I could even run it myself. Definitely worth the time invested.

Thanks for sharing. Good to see other people considering alternatives. I’ll start looking at the options.

> I don't understand why the "Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums" are baked in without being able to customise them.

Isn't this because it's a categorization they do using global information, like spam filtering? If so they would only be able to support the specific categories they are trained for across all users, so they couldn't support custom categories.

Inbox’s custom categories were created using simple filter rules. You can technically do that in GMail also, but only for folders, which are independent of the social/promotions/etc tabs. It seems to me that the ability to create custom tabs via filters would not be a particularly unreasonable feature.

Ideally, you should move more towards folders rather than these custom tabs anyways: The custom tabs don't work with other email clients, which just see one big inbox.

When I was on Gmail, third party client use led me to replace the tabs with custom rules to sort my social notifications, for instance, into proper standards-compliant actual folders.

Difference is, Inbox made filters automatically, and in gmail, you're stuck every single day modifying your filters to manually add yet-another-email address, and quite frankly, now that we know Google is perfectly capable of auto-maintaining filters, being forced to do it manually is insanely frustrating.

When combined with the fact that your address is being bought and sold like free candy, and the number of new addresses per week is over 10, it stops being a "you can do this" and starts being a "you must do these chores weekly to maintain any semblance of a useable gmail", I just call it broken. Gmail is broken.

That sounds a lot like what I do using 'labels'. Other than the position on the screen, what's the difference?

Inbox rollup: Set it up once, magically works forever

Gmail label: Create a filter for a label. It works only for that. New emails need to go in. Manually and annoyingly update the filter. Works only for that. New emails need to go in. Manually and annoyingly update...

You get the point. If I went and bought something from a new store and got it shipped, the receipt automatically appear in "purchases" in inbox. I didn't have to manually update a filter for this one new address. It just worked. Back on gmail, gmail treats that new email as if it has no idea what it is. So into the main box it goes until I manually create rules for this one specific case.

I shouldn't have to manually create a rule for every single email address that ever sends me an email. It's an astronomical amount of work. And now that we know that Google/Inbox was 100% capable of auto-filtering, the idea that we are being transported to the stone age of email is insanity.

Sorry, I was responding to,

> create custom tabs via filters

which as you say, labels are created by filters.

I have no idea how "Inbox rollups" work if they are different than that and than the tabs in gmail, since I haven't used it.

All of those labels can describe social media notifications. The chance you agree with someone else on what they are is under 50%. Promotions should probably just be 'spam' in any email client that works for you. This approach of positivist classification is simply boneheaded.

I don't really see how the four categories would help with training spam filters. "Social" is half spam, half maybe not. "Promotions" is mostly spam, though Google would rather see it as ham. "Updates" and "Forums" are mostly not spam.

I believe the parent poster meant that the classifiers that train into the baked-in categories are trained like a spam filter and use cross-account global knowledge. In other words, it's a model that works if there's a small number of buckets and a huge dataset to train the bucket-targeting against and breaks down if every individual user has their own buckets with their own conflicting understanding of what those buckets should contain.

Ironically, the Inbox rollups worked absolutely beautifully and the gmail filters are really, really rough and don't work well. "Updates" are so incredibly nebulous that it's really a 50/50 crapshoot on whether or not google knows what should go in there. "Updates" and "Social" are commonly mixed up, and finance/purchases have zero place to go. Are they 'Updates' like when I get a 'Our ToS has been updated' email? Etc. The categories are too general to be useful.

I venture that customization isn't important for 98% of users, especially less technically minded users. That's why Google consumer products are pretty simple. Moreover, at scale, every customization opportunity needs lots of work to support on every client and backend.

I think it's combination of:

* The person who pushed for the Inbox project got the promotion/raise they desired and move onto other new projects for further advancement.

* Inbox was too good at quickly managing email, and Google would prefer you spend more time fighting the interface in Gmail and seeing ads than getting this done efficiently.

Call me cynical but that's where I'm at with Google at this point.

"Google would prefer you spend more time fighting the interface in Gmail and seeing ads [...]".

What ads?

Gmail now contains ads within each of the "category" tabs. Ad blockers seem to mostly block them, so that's most likely why you haven't seen anything.

some ads are also disguised as emails, thankfully AdBlocks picked this up.

Gmail app on Android has ads in the mailbox.

And even more ridiculous, since they now have ads on the gmail app I get ads in my G suite account on android. They also constantly try to "unify" my email accounts so that they mix personal g suite email with my work exchange email and I have to click the top right to switch accounts.

I'm quite close to removing the whole damn app too and go for K9-mail or something again (does that still get updated?)

Also the web interface for gmail is absolute trash when you are using firefox, so is youtube creator studio beta. Even the "feedback" button is broken so I can't tell them it doesn't work.

I have no idea if K9-mail gets updated but we are talking about mail, what is there to update? It still works for me.

> Google would prefer you spend more time fighting the interface in Gmail and seeing ads

Do you see ads in Gmail?

I don't anymore and it feels it has been like since a very long time.

(and my AdBlock os turned off on Gmail)

I've started seeing ads disguised as emails (similar to promotional reddit "posts") in the "new" Gmail app I've switched to after being forced off Inbox. I think the ads only show up on free accounts. I have another Google account through my employer (for work email) and I don't see ads there.

My Gmail is free, too...

On GSuite (non-free version of Gmail) I don't see the ads either and it is supposed to be like that (after all, it's paid)

Inbox was a dream come true for the zero-inbox mentality. Sadly, I've yet to found a replacement for this tool.

Going back to Gmail, it is pretty baffling the features it is missing from inbox. Lacking bundles is bad, but having no equivalent to archive/mark all as read is terrible. I used to do a quick scroll through my junk to verify I didn't actually need anything, then click "archive all". Now I have to individually select each individual email to do a group archive/delete.

Heck, not just zero-inbox, but zero-todos. By being able to set reminders, I had a single point for all my own todos, and the ones sent to me by others (aka emails). Now they advice you to add a separate pane with Google Keep or Tasks, which means you're managing them separately. I also have no idea what will happen with the reminders I've set for later than today.

Even more so since my Google Keep reminders would show up in Inbox! Gmail doesn't do this afaik and it's frustrating.

I agree, but you can archive emails in gmail and it does the same thing as setting an email to done in inbox. You can still search for them in the search box or browse the all mail category.

The Inbox shutdown made me finally make the switch from Inbox/Gmail back to a mail program (Mailspring, but anything else could work), which is definitely good for me on the long term, as it means that switching to another provider will be completely seamless. I wonder if Google will ever learn that it can't teach users to like something they don't.

The reason I don't want a mail program is because 99.9% of my email is utter garbage, so the idea that I need to take up bandwidth and diskspace and processor time on my machine to basically download gigabytes of unwanted advertising, scams, phishing attempts, etc, is ridiculous.

My experience with Gmail is the complete opposite. It is far better at filtering spam/phishing - mails than all the other free mail services.

When you've had a gmail account for ~15 years, every advertiser, info reseller, marketer, phisher and spammer alive has my email at the top of their list.

Is what it is, but with Inbox I had 0 issue controlling all of it, and with gmail, all of this garbage is dropped directly into my HIGHLY IMPORTANT >> INBOX with zero filtering or analysis (even though I have, no kidding, over a hundred manual filters containing THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of email addresses all of them "Mark as promotion / Never mark important / Skip the inbox / Never star / Archive immediately" and yet, every week, dozens more appear, so I add yet-another filter to the piles of hundreds, yet another dozen email addresses into the piles of thousands.

And yet with all of this work, I know my inbox will be a useless disaster by next week.

I have had mine for arouns 15 years and I do not recognize this. I really loved Inbox but for this aspect Gmail is not worse; I have not had to worry about spam, false positives or actual spam, at all for the past 8 years at least. I sometimes check my spam and it contains nothing I should have seen. Important contains what I want to see etc. It works perfectly; and I have been getting 1000s of mails per day, mostly spam for more than 10 years on many ancient email addresses that I still need to maintain.

It used to be the case, but apparently they can't sustain it without tightening the filters. In the past few months, the false positive rate went through the roof, and I don't trust their filters anymore.

To my mind, Gmail has always been broken because it utterly fails at being able to delete messages when acting as an IMAP backend.

On iOS, this problem has generally been solved, but on the Mac, it remains a clusterfuck. I have no hope it will ever be fixed.

While my primary account is still there, I moved my personal domain address to Fastmail.

I actually discovered recently Gmail has a setting for configuring this behavior over IMAP. But yes, countless times I discovered emails I had deleted on my Windows Phone just got archived silently. I wish their default was to behave like IMAP is supposed to, but my guess is they wanted to err on the side of not deleting data.

The settings exist, but at least on the Desktop (e.g, in a web browser), I have no confidence that the application will honor those selections.

The disappointing part of all this is I specifically remember when they fixed this in iOS 3 with one 'Archive' toggle switch that in combination with Google settings actually did what I wanted.

I'd be curious to know how G employees handle email inside the mothership given these constraints - do they fix it server side?

If you spend a week or so clicking the "unsubscribe" links in all of the unwanted emails you receive, you might be surprised with how manageable things become. I'd estimate that 99% of my unwanted emails respect the unsubscribe and don't send any more mail.

I highly recommend doing this. I got fed up at one point and started clicking unsubscribe in every non-personal or un-important email and, without all that much effort, my inbox became infinitely more manageable pretty quickly.

Yeah I also was sad about Inbox, it really solved all my problems. I loved it.

Now back in gmail and it sucks, it's just a cluster of emails with no way to filter thru without a lot of effort.

Specially the reminders and the automatic message bundling is terrible missing, the travel bundle feature were great as well.

What drives me crazy about it is that it is an awesome product, that I would probably pay a couple bucks if asked to but nothing can be done to save it.

I am at loss at how to migrate and where too.

I’m with you. I’m putting off switching away from Inbox until they kick me off.

Outlook for iOS is a pretty good app with most of the good from Inbox if you maintain near-zero inbox. I find myself using that almost all the time now because Gmail is so slow compared to it. I'd rather deal with a mobile keyboard than Gmail.

I host my email on my server for years. This is how email was designed. But unfortunately, most people tend to follow monopolistic, centralized services..

It is anecdata, but in my reasonably large group of acquaintances and fellow professionals (hundreds), I haven't heard this complaint in ages!

In any case, if you are having spam delivered to your inbox in GMail, it is very easy to train it to detect spam. Mark as many such as you can, and report them as spam. GMail learns very quickly.

The problem is the big gray zone between spam and letters from Mom. All those mailing lists you get on because you signed into their website or thought something looked interesting once, and they're more or less behaving themselves but still more noise than you're willing to deal with most days.

Inbox dealt with that category of mail, which is at least 90% of what I get, in a simply beautiful way that I can't replace. Gmail has clunky tabs with 90s style pagination and ads at the top.

I understand.

1. Does any other provider have better spam filtering than GMail, though? Curious.

2. You can configure inbox to show all the messages in Primary. Then, the tabs don't appear.

3. I don't see any ads. Probably because I pay for storage?

Customers/users/developers don't care what the reasons are, only that it continues to happen. What is especially irksome to many is that they are shutting down products/services that found an audience... just not one large enough, fast enough to Google's taste. The more they shut down products, the longer many are going to wait before even considering using one of their new products/services especially if there's a cost associated with it. It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle: Google launches a new product, customers/users/developers wait to see if Google is really serious about it, Google shuts down product because it never attracts the critical mass it needs to see, customers/users/developers get even more jaded toward the next one... rinse and repeat.

Google also kills entire niches in the short term by doing this stuff. Almost nobody is going to try to compete with them head on so if they are in a niche with a product that eventually gets killed, all progress stops in that niche for potentially years.

I couldn't agree more here. If only they had a habit of keeping services in beta until they could earn a net profit, and then released them. Then, if for some reason they can't find the level of profits that Google wants for them, they could spin the product off as a separate company and forget about it instead of shutting it down.

That reminds me of the early days of Flickr, which was very visibly in beta for years (it was on the logo). That gave me an appropriate level of anxiety about the longevity of the service. (Well, that and the fact that all the page urls still had a .gne extension, suggesting that Flickr was perhaps not their end game.) Then they went into 'gamma'!? for another couple of years before it finally became just Flickr.

> and the fact that all the page urls still had a .gne extension

What's significant about .gne as an extension? Not sure I've consciously come across that one before.

It’s an allusion to Game Neverending, which eventually led to development of Flickr

It’s odd that Google/Alphabet doesn’t understand this basic negative feedback loop.

It has become apparent to me, even if you ignore the rot that has pervaded throughout the organization, which is manifesting itself in Search results.

I'm sure individuals within the company understand it. Maybe even most individuals.

Get people in large groups though and throw career advancement in the mix for highly career-driven Googlers and all of a sudden what everyone knows to be good for the group ceases up be relevant.

My list of degooglifying actions (mostly from my older post [1])

* switch default search engine to DuckDuckGo (one can still use the !s bang when one wants to see what Google has)

* use tracking blockers (uBlock origin, BlockBear on iOS)

* use anonymous/private/porn mode browsing most of the time (except for sites I actually want to be logged in permanently)

* use Zoho as a replacement for shared Google docs

* use Youtube either in private window, and/or download content once with youtube-dl

* use Apple Maps or OpenStreetMaps instead of Google maps, though still revert to Google maps sometimes, lamentably. It's good. (I never log in, though.)

* long ago switched to different email for main email, and forwarded gmail account to it (and now, basically nobody emails to my old gmail address anymore). (In fact, I use a catch-all domain now (very easy to set up), and a fresh email for basically every account. Quite handy.)

* for contacts, photos, etc. I use Apple's built-in stuff. I do trust Apple a bit more (different business model; look at recent iPhone prices.)

* Signal, Wire, iMessage for messaging

All in all, I think a fairly degooglified life is eminently possible.

In response, people furthermore suggested:

* Firefox with Multi-Account Container function to separate browsing, or just a temporary session with `firefox -no-remote -profile $(mktemp -d)`

* Lineage OS for Android phones (though somewhat controversial)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19057709

I can also recommend Invidious [1] as a Youtube replacement. It's effectively a proxy in front of Youtube, only loading the source data (i.e. the video) in its own container. You can subscribe to channels via the builtin RSS functionality just like on Youtube. I use a redirector extension [2] in Firefox to automatically redirect any Youtube links to Invidious, since the signature for loading videos is identical.

[1] https://www.invidio.us (many other instances run on different addresses)

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/redirector/ (Pattern: https://www.youtube.com/**, Redirect to: https://invidio.us/$2)

"It's effectively a proxy in front of Youtube,"

Then it will be killed when it gets popular, and is not a long-term replacement, because that's only dubiously legal at best (and I'm being generous there, I'd go with "not legal"), and the blocking-it arms race is going to be advantage Google.

There isn't really a replacement for YouTube, because it's not a service, it's content.

True, this has happened with other similar sites before. The difference as I see it with Invidious is that it is an open-source project [1] that anyone can host. If the main page [2] goes down, you can divert immediately to an alternative host (take [3] as one example). All my RSS subscriptions are one search-and-replace away in my OPML file.

[1] https://github.com/omarroth/invidious

[2] https://www.invidio.us

[3] https://www.invidiou.sh

Have you tried temporary containers Firefox plugin -- it's basically automated private mode for everything.

Article about it -- https://spin.atomicobject.com/2018/10/29/virtual-browsers-fi...

Extension -- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/temporary-con...

>> * switch default search engine to DuckDuckGo (one can still use the !s bang when one wants to see what Google has)

I switched to Bing Search last year to earn Microsoft rewards, and I was surprised to find that I only need to go to Google for supplementary searches less than 10% of the time. I thought switching to Bing was going to be much worse.

I was on Bing for rewards for a time, but became uncomfortable with their decision to allow ad targeting based on LinkedIn profiles with no option to opt out. DDG user now.

Did you disable Google's Widevine plugin in Firefox? I just did on mine to see how many videos I won't be able to play anymore.

As an alternative to YouTube I use NewPipe and I'm quite happy with it.

I was never really a fan of Google+, but it's amazing how it went from MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER to being shutdown completely in such a short amount of time. I'm annoyed by all the other things they've ditched, but it scares me to think they did such an about face on Google+. I'll never use anything new from them, and I always tell anyone who asks to avoid using anything there. I'm kinda surprised anyone would run anything on GCP other than some test things. These shutdowns SHOULD damage their brand, and the shutdown of Google+ should send a very clear message to anyone using anything they've added recently.

Google+ was dying slowly to be sure, but the reason it was killed off is because they tried to cover up a data leak affecting over 500,000 users. [0] They've definitely killed off/abandoned their fair share of flagship products without warning (Hangouts, anyone?), but Google+ was shut down to minimize media controversy.

[0]: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/10/google-exposed-n...

jesus. I didn't need another reason to hate Google. But there it is...

As far as I am aware, Google hasn't shut anything down that you actually pay for. So fear mongering about GCP is just begin irrational.

The whole Nexus brand springs to mind. The best mid-tier phone available was killed and replaced with nearly the exact same specs at the highest price possible.

Sent begrudgingly from a Pixel.

The exact reason why I transitioned from a Nexus to an Android One. The Pixel price-point is too damn high.

The Nexus line did exactly what it was supposed to do. It was meant to push an idealistic vision of what Android phones were supposed to be onto the market at a (too) competitive price point to force other Android manufacturers to follow suit.

A few years down the line, consumers have flocked to Android in large numbers, so now it's time to appease other phone manufacturers and guard the bottom line by discontinuing the Nexus line which ran at a loss.

Wasn't that the same idea with Microsoft's Surface device line-up? Windows hardware used to be hot garbage when compared to Apple hardware, but manufacturers have since stepped up their game. But instead of killing the Surface line, Microsoft have doubled down on it.

Hopefully they triple-down and release a SP with USB-C.

I'm very salty about that. I really wish they'd just release a range of perhaps 2 phones, one solid mid-range and one top-spec, that get guarenteed fast updates to Android.

I used to have a Nexus 5, and getting the latest android soon after release was a big feature. I've got a Moto Z2 Play now and there is still no sign of updating to the latest.

The Nexus 6p was around the same price as the iPhone when it came out, think it was $500 vs $550.

Maybe not shutdown, but the Maps API 10x price increase has definitely made me gun shy about using GCP.

Right, they just let it wither. If you have a google apps domain, you run months to years behind getting new features compared to their free offerings.

Then there's Google glass...when was the last update for that?

Paid has not meant any kind 9f safety net from Google's mercurial attitudes.

I have a personal google apps domain and don’t mind this.

Being on a slow, stable update release track means I have the better version of the product IMO. I don’t need the latest flashy updates pushed immediately to my gmail as long as the battle-tested version gets there eventually.

Also, it’s ultimately an enterprise product and rapid changes aren’t appropriate for that space anyway.

But they also refuse to consider charging for popular products that users would be happy to pay for, like Reader and Inbox. So there's more in play here than narrow bean-counting.

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