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 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 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?
You've invested in a platform that you now don't have the same kind of access to anymore.
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.
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.
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).
Chrome OS itself isn't going anywhere.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 =[
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I’m not aware of a single feature on AWS that has ever been abandoned.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
"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)."
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Did it? IIRC, there were at least six decent alternatives available when Reader closed. More if you count desktop and mobile applications.
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.
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. 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.)
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.
https://www.hadean.com/ is presumably a direct competitor to SpatialOS then, I take it? And it's tied to Azure, I believe.
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. 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.
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!
Search with keywords "improbable google deal". First result : "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."
It's a bit surprising that the game industry would be scared of GCP going bust, given the short release cycle of the industry.
Google is unlikely to discontinue GCP
Consistency and reliability matter more than flashy new tech. I wish the culture at Google would understand that.
Yet here we are.
> “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".
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
I didn't want to be subject to those engineering standards.
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.
(Would that have been more prone to an antitrust lawsuit than AMP?)
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: I work at Google, but not on any AMP related stuff.
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.
Disc: Googler but nowhere close to AMP.
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.
In 10 years, will you have to choose between the deprecated version and the version that doesn't work yet?
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) .
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.
 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.
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.
It's really no different in the startup world. If your startup can't show growth in users or profits, then you shutdown.
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 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!
The irony, is that this pattern at FB and and Big G isn’t indicative of a good engineering culture. It’s pathological engineering.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Little point in sticking at 100k my whole career for some misplaced sense of honor.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
Either way, it’s frustrating as a user. I will never forgive them killing Google Reader.
Someone got promoted for introducing playlist shuffle
Nobody gets promoted for fixing it
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.
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.
The practical effect is likely to be people leaving Google because they can get rewarded for maintaining existing products elsewhere.
> 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)
But the rank and file can't change it.
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.
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.
I feel people are underestimating the benefits of this simple structure.
Nobody would want to promote someone that will consistently make them look bad.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
* 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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
What's significant about .gne as an extension? Not sure I've consciously come across that one before.
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.
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.
* 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)
 https://www.invidio.us (many other instances run on different addresses)
 https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/redirector/ (Pattern: https://www.youtube.com/**, Redirect to: https://invidio.us/$2)
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.
Article about it -- https://spin.atomicobject.com/2018/10/29/virtual-browsers-fi...
Extension -- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/temporary-con...
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.
Sent begrudgingly from a Pixel.
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.
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.
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.
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.