I still think this is all ridiculous. Stopping support for a product that uses a certain standard doesn't mean you're against that standard, unless you're a conspiracy theorist.
You can argue that they're against certain open standards if you want, but the canceling of Reader isn't actually evidence of that. Simultaneously putting effort into G+ is also not evidence of that. It's not even symbolic of that. It is only evidence of shifting product priorities, not outright opposition to open standards.
The singular data point that I can think of as being anti-standard is the pending drop of CalDAV for Calendar, which I personally think sucks. But nobody ever cites that. Everybody's pissed that Google canceled a product that they liked, and that's what's driving this never-ending criticism.
You must have not been paying attention. A long list of evidence has been posted here on HN on several occassionas, including dropping CalDAV, of Google turning against the open web.
It's nothing new either, it has been going on for years. They've even dropped their support for net neutrality years ago.
In the mean time Google has been heavily pushing the Google+ walled garden, their anti-privacy and anti-anonymity agendas, and has been pro-active in filtering their services on behalf of the copyright-exploitation industry.
This is not a conspiracy theory, it's just a matter of connecting the fairly obvious dots that barely need connecting because there are so many of them by now all that's missing is an official "fuck the open web" press statement.
Perhaps it was done to prevent spam, or to prevent misbehaving clients from wreaking havoc on its servers.
From hearsay, I understand it's reasonably easy to get on the whitelist if you're a moderately-known app developer or a legit institution. This would lead me to believe Google's reasons are less nefarious in this case.
The main problem with Google at the moment is the centralization of many popular services into one corporate entity. Video, search, email etc. are all now in the hands of, mostly, Google. With so few viable competitors, you get a de-factory monopoly as well as insane growth. The centralization itself is the problem.
Success like this does not breed innovation. Aside from some novel extra-Internet projects like Glass and autonomous cars, Google does not innovate much, and many of these services have stagnated, and Google does not seem to care much about Internet standards or about being ethical.
I can get behind your first paragraph, which is basically just saying that as a consumer you like to support variety and a dynamic market by using services from multiple providers. If that's you're goal, that's a reasonable enough justification for me. However, that's not a reaction that would come as a direct result of one product cancellation (because it is a proactive, not reactive perspective), and my comment is in response to the post, which explicitly claims the reason for expunging Google is due to Google's supposed new opposition to open standards.
I really don't understand your angle with the second paragraph though. It's just the kind of stuff that's going to make this all devolve into a battle of words about who the best/worst/most evil/most creative/most underdog/most overvalued/undervalued/deserving/undeserving companies are. Frankly a generalization like that without any specifics or context is a fanboy thing to say. If you're trying to tell me that Google is a stagnating company doing more net harm than good, all I think it's worth to say is that I think you're terribly wrong, and I disagree.
He is not claiming an opposition to open standards, but that open standards are secondary, and will get thrown under bus if it conflicts with the primary goal of making money, and that it seems Google believes social in general and Google+ is the way to make more money, and that this puts open standards at risk.
Reducing your dependency on Google's support for open standards then becomes prudent.
Personally I'm sticking with a number of Google services, but I'm also taking precautions (backing up my data; my primary address is on my own domain so I can move away from Gmail easily if I want to (don't think they'd close it down, but they certainly can - and have - made changes that I find detrimental; I only stick with Gmail now because of a number of tweaks using Minimalist, for example)
It's not so much that Google has become horrible, but that they've taken a number of steps to be "less good" than what a lot of people have come to expect and depend on. They're on their way to being "just another company" instead of anything special.
Yes, as a consumer I would like variety and a dynamic market. But regarding the second point (proactive/reactive), I would also like an ecosystem of businesses that are engaged in some level of technological cooperation towards common goals. This over-reliance on Reader, for example, is an example of a bad ecosystem. It's not entirely Google's fault; it's also our fault as users for not seeing the single-provider trap until too late, and it's the entire ecosystem's fault for marginalizing feed technology in favour of intrusive ad-infested web sites.
As for the second paragraph: My point is that once you have a certain amount of dominance, and a certain amount of traction in the market (of the kind that it's hard to switch from, such as Gmail or Reader or Docs/Drive), it's no longer important prioritize openness or sharing or standards compliance. Those things don't matter in the short run to your user base, many of whom are loyal by necessity (switching is hard) or inertia (don't really care, it's the default choice), or who just don't know or care. It doesn't really matter to your bottom line if you piss of a minor percentage (eg., Reader, or the recent post about Google not providing any kind of support), and the competition is so small that they don't matter much either.
Would love to see some market-share breakdowns. Still, that's pretty huge. I expected them to bigger at video, but I guess there is a pretty long tail of smaller providers such as Vimeo and Liveleak and what not?
> And when they attempt to get out of markets so that other new companies can perform better
I really doubt that they canceled Reader for such altruistic reasons.
> And how are you sure that FastMail and Vimeo (Alternatives suggested in the OP) are any better?
I don't know what their market share is, but I bet it's very small compared to Google's. In other words, they have to care about standards because they are nowhere near in control.
> they canceled Reader for such altruistic reasons
There is no evidence that it was done to bring more users to Reader (like the article suggested) either. They did allow you to takeout your reader content. So yes I do evidence that they hope that users find services that fit their needs.
I'd have to disagree on the innovation point. Google continues to make dramatic improvements (imo) to many of their apps and services. As a developer building on Docs/Drive, I've seen that service continuously grow and expand, though much of the work remains below the waterline. Similarly, Maps, Now, Voice Search, Chrome, App Engine continue to be improved at a rate that outstrips what I'm used to at most other companies Google's size.
It's true that the visible feature changes have slowed significantly, but I'd attribute that more to the size and completeness of the existing products than anything else. It's also true that they aren't entering many new product lines, though for one thing I'm not sure that's something you'd lament and for another, I hear they've declared they won't be entering any new business that they expect to be below $1bn.
Google does iterate their products, but I don't see much innovation. Granted, I haven't tried Now, as I don't have an Android phone, but it does sound like real innovation.
I just don't see much happening with other products. Chrome? Just getting slower and more bloated. App Engine? Does nothing for me that Heroku doesn't. Docs, while impressive, came out years ago, and Drive is basically a Dropbox/iCloud clone.
Google actually made a huge reverse-innovation with Google+, which is essentially just Facebook rewritten for the Google ecosystem. It's pretty much as invasive as Facebook in how it attempts to smear the contents of your private life across an impersonal surface, and it seems to belong to another era of walled-garden services that don't integrate with anything other than itself (posts doesn't even support formatting other than bold and italic, how's that for retrograde?).
So as you suggested, lets simply want to ignore Now, Android, Maps, Glasses and Self Driving cars:
Chrome: A hell lot of features that are pushing web forward, arguably the best development tools, significant contribution to Webkit (now to Blink), becoming platform for Chrome OS, v8 engine that serves as basis for NodeJs.
App Engine/Drive: So when Heroku/Dropbox does it, it can be called innovation but when GAE/Drive does it, it is just iteration? That's an insane standard to work against.
> doesn't even support formatting other than bold and italic, how's that for retrograde.
There is no way you could argue that supporting lists and headings will suddenly make Google+ an innovative product out of nowhere. What I find awesome are Hangouts and circles. They work very nicely for me, YMMV. You can set the entire profile to be hidden and no one will be smearing contents of your private life anywhere. I am not sure exactly is this complaint coming from.
> Chrome: A hell lot of features that are pushing web forward …
There are technical innovations, but I thought we were talking about product innovations. Users don't care about WebGL or canvas or CSS3. Those things are not innovations to them.
The only significant user-facing innovation in Chrome is arguably the extension/app store. Maybe incognito browsing, although I believe Safari had that first.
> App Engine/Drive: So when Heroku/Dropbox does it, it can be called innovation
The word "innovate" derives from the Latin name for new. You don't innovate by copying. Heroku (as far as I know) launched a year before Google, and is clearly prior art. Dropbox launched years before.
> There is no way you could argue that supporting lists and headings will suddenly make Google+ an innovative product out of nowhere
I didn't say that. I said that the lack of support for formatting is old-fashioned (the opposite of innovative, really).
No, I'm saying that Google is innovating very little. Indeed, it's primarily innovating in areas not related to the web (which the article is about).
Search, Maps,YouTube have not evolved much the last few years; the last true innovation was Street View, and the last truly useful addition to Search was the fact database integration. Android is basically just following in Apple's footsteps. Wallet I don't know anything about, so I can't comment, Shopping looks to me like it's still the terrible old shopping search that isn't useful for anything. Google+ is basically a reimplementation of Facebook.
Go may have been created at Google, but it's really the work of Pike and Thompson; according to insiders, the internal language at Google is still mainly Java and C++; and I wouldn't call it innovation, exactly, since there is nothing innovative about neither the parts or the whole; rather, it's a very incremental evolution of the general-purpose computer language tradition of C plus Oberon/Modula.
In other words, your sarcasm is wildly misplaced, sir.
Too bad you are so hard trying to make your point you lose connection with reality.
Android, in its core, is so entirely different then iOS that saying "following in Apple's footsteps" is just wrong. What has changed in recent major (!!) iOS updates? Twitter & Facebook integration.. Seriously?
While Android 4 revamped the entire user interface, streamlined ui & ux and allowed for buttonless phones (apart from power).
Also, Google Maps recently added vector based maps, a great addition to the previous bitmap based maps.
Search has added countless quick results like instant currency conversion, quick answers to questions and instant results.
Gmail has litteraly changed web based mail and still continues to do so.
I do agree on youtube & go. Go isn't a revolution, it is one of the most boring languages ever. Which is one of it major plusses over "exciting" languages like ruby & python. Also, it isn't an offcial Google product, so stomping Go to the ground really shows how you are just bashing away.
Please don't say innovation has stopped when it clearly hasn't.
Those are not innovations, those are incremental improvements. (If you want to call all minor improvements innovation then, well, everyone's innovative.) Innovations are new products and new ideas.
Of course Android is following in Apple's footsteps; Apple came first, after all, and established everything that Android has since also implemented. Whatever Google is doing, it's an incremental improvement on that revolutionary approach to smartphones. Google Glass is innovative, possibly even revolutionary; but Android isn't.
> Google Maps recently added vector based maps
I doubt users notice that. (I'm a developer and I haven't noticed.) (Also, didn't Apple do this first, with the Maps app?) I'm sure there is lots of technical, low-visibility innovation happening at Google, but that's not what we are talking about here.
> Search has added countless quick results
Again, miniscule, evolutionary improvements.
> Gmail has litteraly changed web based mail and still continues to do so.
Gmail launched in 2004 and has hardly changed since then. Sure, it got priority inbox (a minor feature, hardly the revolutionary feature they claimed), GTalk and themes. Not really innovations in any meaningful sense. Gmail is possibly the worst example of all, since everything after 2004 has essentially been polish.
> Also, [Go] isn't an offcial Google product, so stomping Go to the ground really shows how you are just bashing away.
The parent was the one who mentioned Go, I merely responded.
I would argue that an open smartphone ecosystem is innovative. Not original, but innovative.
Google Now IS innovative.
Google's method for voice recognition is certainly innovative, as are the myriad ways in which they have implemented that core technology.
Google voice (grandcentral) was certainly innovative; the calling system and the text transcription in most specific.
My main problem with your exchange is my perception of you constantly moving the goalposts. I don't see how you can categorically reject 'technical, low-visibility innovation' unless your argument is presupposed.
Furthermore, most of these achievements are acquire/hires, and we have seen the big G push these purchased assets into new features or products. I would argue that this capability IS the basic facility to innovate the marketplace.
(gmail has indeed revolutionized webmail, both in size of free storage and in the mailbox organizational methods)
Symbian was an open smartphone ecosystem. Google is just taking it a step further (to serve its own ends, of course).
I am not moving the goalposts. The original article was about Google web products such as Chrome and Reader. The only non-productized item mentioned was OpenID, which concerns integration with the rest of the web and could be considered a feature of their user-facing products. These things are the things that matter to people when they view Google as a company. Not whether Maps has vector graphics.
So, yeah, for the purposes of this discussion, I do discount technical, low-visibility innovation. If we are talking purely about technology, then sure, Google is probably an innovation leader.
Good question. There aren't many. Most of the ones I can think of (Kickstarter, Github, Heroku) launched years ago and have since built on their success without really innovating much beyond the initial idea.
The YC portfolio has a lot of interesting, innovative startups. No products that I use myself at this point, though.
Right now, personally, the new idea I find the most exciting is crowd-funding computer games. Last year I spent a ton of money on Kickstarter to fund small indie developers such as Double Fine.
"Let's be clear that this has nothing to do with revenue vs operating costs. Reader never made money directly (though you could maybe attribute some of Feedburner and AdSense for Feeds usage to it), and it wasn't the goal of the product.
Reader has been fighting for approval/survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I'm pretty sure Reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened. It was often for some reason related to social:
2008 - let's pull the team off to build OpenSocial
2009 - let's pull the team off to build Buzz
2010 - let's pull the team off to build Google+"
In my experience Google buys something, lures people into using it for years, lets it languish without improvements for years so long as it serves their purposes, then kills it off.
Whether they're "working against the potential of the open Internet" is another question altogether. They like head counts, but like certain fickle people in all of our lives, the idea of actually having a real enduring relationship never crosses their Aspergian heads. It's just business. We've already got enough of that ruining the world. Some of us actually yearn for a better future ... not just enduring life on the way to Alpha Centauri or whatever.
Google has made several mistakes re social products but it's definitely not against the open web. There's a lot of internal criticism every time one of these decisions is made but, at the end of the day, upper management gets to do whatever they want.
I've never met anybody at Google how was happy with the way G+ is being handled or liked Vic Gundotra. A lot of us rather he'd go back to Microsoft.
Even assuming Google is not being malicious--and I think that's a broadly safe assumption--I'm still concerned. I'm am significantly over-reliant on Google's serviced: my email, my calendar, my OpenID, my web search, my videos, my phone, my maps, my web browser... (Well, I do use Firefox now.) It's a single point of failure. A rather scary one at that.
Some of these things do not have good alternatives. My phone? I could use an iPhone or Windows phone, but Apple and Microsoft are malicious. Also, they both hate Linux. But the other things? I probably could--and probably should--move some of them to a different service, if only in the interest of diversification.
Of course, I've been meaning to do this for a while. But I haven't. In many different, usually small ways, I'm hooked into Google. That by itself worries me; in some cases, even if I did want to move to a different service, it would not be easy. Very importantly, this is not Google's fault at all--in fact, they're very good about making my data portable. It's entirely poor planning on my part. Yet it's still an issue.
Perhaps the worst part--or the best part--is that I don't have any immediate problems with this situation. Everything works. Quite well. I just have a general sense of disquiet about it all.
Diversification is a good idea, but the cost seems higher than the benefit in this case.
Let's say Google becomes evil and makes Android and Chrome evil: the solution is simple, fork Android and Chromium and continue on without the evil additions. Or, don't upgrade. If you "diversify" now, though, you miss out on cool Chrome features, or you spend your weekend maintaining a web browser fork when you could be at the beach.
As for services like videos, calendars, email, and so on -- you can download your data regularly  and move to a new service when you feel like it. This lets you defer the cost of switching until you actually need to switch. If that happens to be never, you win. If that happens to be tomorrow, you still win. (But if you switch now, you pay the feature difference cost every day. If Google never becomes evil, then you've wasted your time.)
Think of it another way. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I typically buy "store brand" products. That means everything in my pantry is "over-reliant" on that one store. But in reality, that's not the case: if Whole Foods goes out of business, I can just shop at Trader Joe's instead, since flour and sugar is pretty much the same everywhere. My accumulated recipes will continue to work either way. (And while both stores exist, nothing is stopping me from shopping at them both other than the added time that visiting each store takes. But that cost is non-zero, which entices me to consolidate my shopping needs. For now.)
> If you "diversify" now, though, you miss out on cool Chrome features, or you spend your weekend maintaining a web browser fork when you could be at the beach.
Sorry but what you are saying doesn't make sense. It is your proposal (fork when Chrome turns evil) which could end up with him maintaining a web browser fork on the weekend. "[M]iss out on cool Chrome features" ... well you miss out on cool Firefox features if you don't switch now ... I think switching the browser is really the least complicated thing to do of all those things.
> This lets you defer the cost of switching until you actually need to switch. If that happens to be never, you win. If that happens to be tomorrow, you still win.
No. Because now you have the time to slowly migrate and adjust. When you are with your back a against the wall the "costs" can be much much higher.
> No. Because now you have the time to slowly migrate and adjust. When you are with your back a against the wall the "costs" can be much much higher.
How, exactly? In some cases, waiting seems to be cheaper.
For example, I've always regularly backed up my Reader's OPML, so I could leave anytime, but I'm still on Reader because this way I am waiting out things like Feedly's downtime, letting them iron out import bugs and complaints from less patient Reader refugees, letting people try out the various options and blog about how they are working out over a period longer than a day, etc. When Reader shuts down in June and I finally leave, won't it be cheaper for me to switch to the next-best alternative because I have waited?
Going 'thermonuclear' over product competition
capricious, callus, and combative app store submission process
anti-competitive & likely-illegal publication conspiracy
hoarding profits overseas and refusing to pay taxes for the environment that spawned their successes.
censorship of users media
To some extent any standard competitive behavior, or corporate practice, may be regarded as malicious.
You raise several points, so I'm going to try and respond to them all:
1. Going 'thermonuclear' over product competition.
This is the behaviour which best fits the definition of "malicious", namely "having or showing a desire to cause harm to someone". Without taking a personal position here, I'd point out that Apple thought that what Google did was not simply "competition".
2. Capricious, callus [sic] and combative app store submission process:
It's certainly true that the App Store process is non-ideal, but I don't think this is malicious, however it feels to be on the receiving end. Never ascribe to malice that which can be sufficiently explained by incompetence. I grant you that any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
3. Anti-Competitive and likely-illegal publication conspiracy
To whom is malice being intended here? Not the customers. Not the publishers. Amazon perhaps, but only in the sense that Apple is trying to create competition. Amazon appears to be destroying the value in the book market in order to establish a near monopoly on eBooks. Of course, it's hard to pity the publishers when they're the ones who insisted on DRM in the first place and turned it into a winner-take-all game.
4. Hoarding profits overseas.
To whom are they being malicious? This appears to be pretty standard activity.
5. Refusing to pay taxes for the environment that spawned their successes.
What kind of taxes are you talking about? What environment?
6. Censorship of users media
I'm pretty sure I can copy whatever I like onto an iPad, iPhone or Mac without Apple removing it again, unless I missed a particularly juicy scandal (perhaps Apple censored it from my news feed). Do you mean that they limit what can be sold through their store? I think most store holders retain that right, including Amazon.
Yeah, this was my thought process too (although I do use an iPhone unfortunately). The only point I'd add is that it seems unlikely that Google will move to be more open and more privacy conscious; any change seems likely to go the other direction (for obvious and understandable business purposes, not, as you said, maliciousness).
Most important thing is to not get so entrenched in one technology vendor or another. They are not part of you. You're not an Apple person or a Google person - that's just how companies want you to think. Don't let technology choices become part of who you think you are. Use tech that helps you until it doesn't. Always have an exit plan. Don't get emotionally attached to one company or emotionally put off another. They're corporations. The don't care about you. Thy offer a service. If that service comes as part of a trade you're comfortable with use it, else don't.
I've never found Firebug to be lacking; what do the Chrome developer tools have that make it impossible to stop using Chrome?
In my experience Chrome is a PITA for web development due to its weirdly aggressive caching. I thought people were just making it up a few months back, but I experienced it recently and it's infuriating.
It's hard to nail down the difference between Chrome Dev Tools and Firebug with just one thing. For me it's not one killer feature it's a quality of life issue. It's all the little things that, IMHO, Chrome Dev Tools does right.
I have no problem using Firebug or even the Firefox Inspector when needed to actually find a Firefox specific problem but for working day in and day out, I prefer the experience of the Chrome Dev Tools.
I'll still happily use Chromium for web development, as and where necessary. Just not signed in to Google for sync, etc. etc.
I do wonder though ... would you have described the formation of the FSF as a childish temper tantrum? I remember the days when to use Linux as a development OS was painful ... it worked out well in the end though :)
I don't entirely agree with the GP's phrasing, but it's worth pointing out that the FSF doesn't paint all a company's software with the same brush. They're happy to rail against non-free software while accepting contributions to GNU projects from the same developers.
FSF is an ideal. The ideal that all software is open source so that it's more secure and has all the other benefits of open source. What you're doing is being childish. "Boo hoo, big bad Google killed a product I liked, so I'm going to make some bullshit arguments to stop using ALL their products."
I don't use all of Google's products, but I use a subset because they get the job done well. If you think killing off reader was a bad idea, why not build your own and see how the cost/benefit ratio pays off. What problem are you even solving by doing this? You're just throwing a childish fit.
"It's because I think that Google is now working against the potential of the open web" That's a pretty bold claim and an epic overreaction, especially given that Google currently derives 97% of its revenue from the Web, and if it goes away, it would be very problematic for Google.
The Web is a small subset of the Internet. There are many other protocols to enable the sharing of data between individuals and platforms, and it looks like Google wishes to deprecate at least some of those in favour of its own end-to-end solution. I think that killing off Reader in favour of G+ is the start of acceleration in that direction. I hope I'm wrong.
First of all, the quote, from you, specifically says "open Web" not "open Internet"
Secondly, Reader was not killed because of G+. If FriendFeed is finally killed off, will you say it was because Facebook needed the resources and engineers on a competing product? Consumers have moved on to desire the kinds of features that are inherent in services like Facebook, and RSS simply isn't suited to solving the problem of federated social networking. There is no open standard for this, remember, Google tried it with PubHubSubHub/WebFinger/OpenID/OAuth/ActivityStreams but it didn't work.
I favor federated feeds as well (see my essay http://timepedia.blogspot.com/2008/05/decentralizing-web.htm...), but honestly, for me personally, RSS was a HUGE step back from what I had on USENET in the 80s with RN/TRN. Someone must create a new, open federated social networking platform, but honestly, you can't put the cart before the horse. Google tried that several times and failed.
First, you've got to built a super successful platform consumers love, then you can standardize it. The history of doing it the other way is littered with failure. Remember OpenSocial?
I don't think Google has lost sight of the Open Web, I think it just realized that you must focus on the end user design issues first if you want to be successful. Ignore this at your peril, look at the way consumers flock to native apps on mobile. They care about experiences, not implementation. If the "open web" specs don't do the job, then you need to create a product first that consumers show they want, and then work backwards to figure out how to fix the specs.
You're also correct that RSS doesn't solve the problem of federated social networking. It was never intended to.
W.r.t. developing protocols for federated social networking: Google isn't interested; it would harm their bottom line if users on their systems could easily share content outside those systems. Hence why Google+ doesn't even offer an RSS feed.
Do you really, hand-on-heart, think that Google would support a federated social media protocol on Google+ should such a thing come into being? Do you think they're planning to build such a protocol?
A central core feature of Google Wave was federation. Wave failed. Reason? Not because of federation, but because of consumer experience and confusion.
If you look at G+, Google has taken a very very careful approach this time (after OpenSocial, Buzz, Wave, et al failed), building on it very incrementally, always concentrating on user experience at each step. Even to the extent that they don't have even have an API to post content to G+ programmatically. Whether or not it will eventually turn into some idea federated open network, I have no idea.
But I would not take G+ as somehow Google dropping support for the open web. Google is a very large company with lots and lots of product, and company culture just doesn't change overnight.
I'd love it if Google had done a disapora-like federated system. But honestly, if they had gone that route, we'd have threads all over the blog-sphere laughing at Google for yet another social networking failure.
Those kinds of projects earn the love and adoration of the hacker community, but they don't get grandma, teens, and celebrities on your site.
Want better counter-evidence? Look at WebRTC and Google Hangouts. Hangouts are a defining competitive advantage G+ has over all over social networks, and Google sponsors a spec that essentially makes them a commodity that anyone can implement now.
Hmmmm ... the fact that there is no API access, no RSS feed etc. doesn't strike me as a coincidence, or perhaps a consequence of a streamlined user experience. I think it's deliberate, & part of a long-term strategy.
Clearly you don't though.
Perhaps we should resume this conversation in five years time? :)
I'm planning to do exactly this, myself. Not so much because of any perceived danger to the open web posed by Google, but because I've come to realise that I simply have too many eggs in their basket. Tellingly, my list of products that I will be replacing is almost completely different to this person's. Google has become the Walmart of computing and it's time to resist.
I understand why people are reluctant to trust a single corporation with so much control over their personal information, particularly when, as they say, the user is as much the product as the customer. I'm generally a big defender of Google but even I am disquieted by their maneuvering around Google+.
However, I also doubt it's possible to build services as sophisticated as GMail on direct payments from users. I strongly suspect that very few people would be willing to pay what it would cost to build and run a service like GMail without ads.
I tried Fastmail last year and maybe my impressions are out of date but it can't compete on features at all. The web interface is stone age compared to gmail, search is far slower and less sophisticated, spam filtering was not as good etc. No native apps are available for mobile.
Fastmail isn't bad but I don't consider them to be in the same league.
Reminds me of Android Market. Used to be OK for getting apps, but now it is going to shove music and video search results in my face every chance it gets with annoying screens between me and the app search results and annoying continue shopping screens after each app.
If I wanted those things, I'd be in the other apps for them, like Google Books or whatever. Of course I'm never in that particular one because Amazon Kindle is so much better. I'm sure if I liked music or video then Google wouldn't be my choice either. I tried to get 300 once for someone and it had a search result for it, but wouldn't show me the page. Then I bought batman instead and it just gave me a license error whenever I tried to watch it.
Really would have been better to migrate Android Market/Google Play as soon as someone else made an app store on Android, and there are many, rather than trusting Google not to sell out their users. With Google you invest time in a product, then basically it gets shut down or co-opted into something you don't want. A startup you like getting bought by Google is pretty much the worst thing possible since generally they'll just kill the product.
Guess I should go through this list and get off their other services proactively. It just isn't worth trusting Google where you don't have to.
I don't think Google is 'actively working against an open web', but the shuttering of Reader in order to make way for that ghastly Google+ makes me reconsider every time they open up a new service (didn't even glance at Keep, for example. Remember what happened to Google Notebook?)
It's nice to have open source alternatives, and possibly to help them grow. If a lot more people start using, say, ownCloud, it will probably help develop it into a more robust and usable platform. Also, as a hacker, having a stack of my own software side-by-side with my current Google/Apple stack will probably help me learn more as I use it more, and will give me something to fall back on in case Google shutters it.
"the shuttering of Reader in order to make way for that ghastly Google+"
There's a lot of erroneous assumptions in there. Reader was never really a product with much support, it was more a labor of love of a small dedicated team. Reader was not shutdown to "make way for G+" anymore than any of the other spring cleaned services were shut down because of competing services. Even the original (ex-Googler now) Reader engineers have pretty much outlined many of the reasons, including the decline of RSS, which was killed off in large part by people moving to services like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.
It's really regretable, but it's time to realize that the rest of the world moved on, and if we want federated, open services, it's going to have to built from the ground up, and in a way that users, not hackers, will want to use it.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, this is (to me) why being able to export your data is a first class requirement of a service. For these listed, there's takeout: https://www.google.com/takeout/
Backing up your online data from services should be just as common (and practiced) as backing up harddrives or important information. You decide which services you want to use, but give yourself the flexibility to move if and when circumstances change.
I recently found out that Firefox sends a request to safebrowsing.clients.google.com for every page I visit. I found out how to disable it, but it wasn't straightforward and there were still requests sent to Google for other things.
Safe browsing is in Firefox Preferences "Security" tab under "Block reported attack sites" + "Block reported web forgeries".
Search for "goog" in about:config to find more interesting things.
LiveHTTPHeaders extension is also an eye-opener, because Firebug usually doesn't show these requests.
edit: just to save time for others parsing the protocol page, and it's been a while since I've read it, so someone please correct me if I have this wrong, but Firefox (and Chrome, and maybe others, not sure) stores a local set of the first 32 bits of the 256-bit hashes of all the sites currently marked as hosting malware or whatever. Your browser pings fairly often to get an updated version of this set of sites.
When you visit a page, the canonicalized name of the page you're on is hashed and the first 32 bits are compared against the database of prefixes. If there is a collision (I believe there are usually a few hundred thousand entries of the 2^32 available hash prefixes), only the first 32 bits of the hash of the page you're on is sent to google, as a request for the set of full hashes of malicious pages that begin with that prefix, which allows for the final, very much local, check.
This saves a bunch of time and bandwidth, and lets you get a last minute double check that the page is still bad with no one able to work out what page you're actually on.
I have seen many of these posts recently and I honestly do not understand. I use Google products and it definitely beats out most of the competition and doesn't interfere with anything worse than any other product out there. Sure the internet is changing, and you can either go with it (or not). Switching to many different products to complete the same tasks (many of them worse than Google products) seems kind of silly to me.
I'd like to give credit to Google where it is due. With takeout, it is very easy to get quite a bit of your information. You already could get your emails by IMAP or POP but still Google set a standard with Takeout :)
This makes it possible for someone to just pack his bags and leave. This is also the reason why I am staying.
Just like everybody else said, Google is not moving against the open web. Rather the opposite. The only thing I agree with is the part where Google tries to get everybody to use Google only, which makes sense considering Google can be compared to a small empire. I mean, has anyone seen the office buildings that Google has?
As for Chrome, I think Webkit (or now Blink) is where web happens fastest. All new web experiments are done with -webkit, not -moz-, and you gotta go where the majority goes. In this case anyway. I haven't used gmail for a long time tho', because I didn't like that the content of my emails get used for ads - so I set up my own email server for personal usage. Other then that, maps, search .. it does what I need it to do so whether it tracks me or whatever is just the cost of the service.
When I registered on Quora by using my GoogleId, I was very surprised to see Quora asking me to send an email invite to all my Android phone contacts. Google handed over all the emails of my Android phone contacts to Quora ! Is this what I get from using Android and synchronization ? I didn't see an opt out of that.
I'm now waiting for Ubuntu phone, while hoping that they don't try to monetize it using similar abuse of monopole. The Ubuntu desktop spam still hurts.
Also, when connecting to my Youtube account, google ask me regularly to use my real name and there is no button to reply just no and don't ever ask me anymore!
Google is lowering the barrier for competitors ! Same thing for Twitter and Facebook.
I agree but this means that I can't register in quora with my googleId without giving Quora all my emails. Since I don't use facebook and twitter what options are left ? I do want to use googleId authentication to access Quora but why would that imply I have to give all my emails to Quora ? Why can't I decide about that ? Why is Google imposing that to me ? Is this a commercial deal between Google and Quora ?
Google isn't imposing anything, AFAIK. The permissions exist because there are reasonable applications that might want them (e.g. contact sync). Quora is deciding what permissions to ask for. They could ask for more or less (other sites/services do), but they don't.
You know, I've come to think of Google as less of a corporation and more of a country lately. Most of their products act more like a sort of public service for their citizens, subsidized through ad revenue rather than taxes.
So far, it's had a pretty good track record for a country, no doubt due to the fact that it's still technically a corporation, but still, not too bad.
Still, it has its issues. There are many countries that can only dream of obtaining the data Google has on its citizens. Many of them have tried, and thankfully, for the time being, Google has been more or less protective of this data. Then there's their whole policy of axing infrastructure and services (products) whenever they deem fit, and by fit I mean unprofitable. Depending on your political views, this can be seen as either irresponsible or efficient. Regardless, its inconvenient for those who were using the service, and most efforts to put a service on the chopping block have something to do with trying to get more people to migrate to Google+, possibly to collect more data and serve up more ads, a very bizarre synthesis of increasing taxes and surveillance.
So maybe Google doesn't want to be a country of the internet. Tough. That's what they grew into, and the only way to avoid it is to shrink and pivot and lay off a lot of people who are essentially the Google equivalent of government employees.
Until then, we're right to be critical and cautious towards Google's actions, a responsibility even, otherwise they're liable to really screw up.
I have 6 applications running on Google App Engine.
I use Analytics to track stats in them.
I use Ad Sense and Ad words to help monetise them.
I have 2 apps for business accounts each with separate gmail, calendar and docs. One for personal life one for business.
Crome is significantly better than both Safari and Firefox on my Mac laptop event though I use both and have all three browsers open, each has a different google account loged into it.
People want their news curated, either through hacker news, reddit, Google plus or something else. For a minority RSS was their preference, but for everyone else Google correctly shifted their resources to the future.
RIP RSS, you had your day in the sun and lead the way for better products.
Google Talk uses an open protocol, XMPP. So basically any client that support XMPP should (hopefully) work with Google Talk. This means you wouldn't have to migrate your friends / family over to a new client but you can still expunge Google's IM client specifically.
Google just recently reinstated federated XMPP for their Google Talk service  so you can talk to peers on other XMPP servers. I use an XMPP server that has been provided to me by my e-mail provider (lavabit.com) to chat with my friends/family that use Google Talk without any issues.
I love these articles and seeing alternatives to mainstream solutions but focusing on alternatives for a single company is not the end goal for me. You can go with Apple, Google or Microsoft and get a nice packaged solution for email, calendar, contacts, music, storage, etc and the end goal for me would not be switching to separate packages. The end goal would be to have a self-hosted easy to install and solution, OwnCloud is almost there for 90% of what I want but it doesn't maintain my email. There is no solution for me unless it's easy and all works seamlessly together, like Google and the rest have.
The main Google services I use are Gmail, Android and Search. I would be mainly interested in replacing Gmail and tried (I have a personal domain with mail forwarded to Gmail). I use Gmail mainly because of its excellent spam blocking but also the Android experience is very good.
I tried getting rid of Gmail last year but failed due to not finding a decent email client on Android that wasn't Gmail. Any suggestions? Please don't suggest K-9.
For search I am now trying DuckDuckGo. I'm a mechanical engineer so will give this a few weeks to see if it affects my day to day fact finding.
Adding the missing features (email + maps) to owncloud would appear to be the neatest way to go. Then target something like the openstack API and you can move between providers pretty easily. The bit that bugs me is how to deal with rolling your own maps provider, but if you're willing to compromise on having access to all maps all the time it wouldn't be so hard.
Google's primary objective is not money, but information gathering and control. The move to Google+ is a centralisation of the information repository. Google Glass is an attempt at getting more detailed personal information. The autonomous vehicle development is for them to control your vehicle.
It's pretty incomplete for parts of the world, and certain applications require accuracy (or at least completeness). The answer, of course, is to contribute, but when your core business isn't mapping that's hard to propose as a viable fix.
Parts of the world in my case ~= Sydney, which has a decent number of geeks per capita to contribute. OSM is wonderful, but has a way to go before it's a viable solution for everyone.
Second that. Google maps are surprisingly bad in a number of first-world countries like France or Israel; OpenStreetMap are very very detailed. I don't think Bing maps would be better than either of those.
If you're a user on a commercial system you didn't pay for (Google, Facebook, etc.) then you're not a customer, you're cattle. Your value is directly proportional to how much the company running the system knows about you.
I don't like where Facebook is going, and I think Google is following in their footsteps, albeit helped along by an excellent reputation for quality and fair play, especially amongst geeks.
Maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon, but I think Google is playing the same 'embrace and extend' card as Microsoft did back in the day, just for slightly different reasons.
The key part of "embrace, extend, and extinguish" strategy was extending the standard in proprietary ways, thus making it incompatible and no longer implementable via open source software, thus killing it.
I don't get how any of this applies to any web company, where nearly the entire business is based on the web and the standards that back it. It's no wonder that many of these companies contribute back to the web standards and open source software. Sure, these contributions are in the company's interests--but that's the whole point. We reached a time when it's in interests of many big (and small) corporations to contribute to open source and standards (including Microsoft!).
Some people see efforts to improve standards or contribute new ones as somehow bad, "embrace and extend". When actually it's the opposite: investing in the commons to promote its welfare.
Obligatory disclaimer: speaking for myself here, not any employer past or present.
... except where it isn't in their interests, which is why Google is trying to kill off RSS with a multi-pronged strategy (ignore RSS in Chromium, kill off RSS reader, don't offer an RSS feed in G+).
If your platform is free-as-in-beer, you have to monetise your users to advertisers. You do this by learning more about them by keeping them within your ecosystem, not by allowing them access to your platform through open protocols.
I see it as a fundamental conflict between users of a system (you and me) and the customers (advertisers). Google has made it clear which side of that equation they care about. See e.g. their support of DRM in HTML.
Not exactly embrace and extend like MS did it, but similar in spirit: take an open protocol, embrace it for a while, gradually weaken it over time in favour of a parallel closed system, then once everyone is happily using it, kill it dead and watch the migration into the closed system.
If I had to guess, I'd say that torrent support was nixed for fear of offending Big Content; Opera has already showed that it's reasonable for a browser to support it. Also there's already a plugin for that protocol, so it may just be a low priority for the team. Odd that they flagged the request 'invalid' though.
(Please stop telling me that I'm angry about Reader. It's not that I'm angry: I've identified what I think is a pattern in Google's behaviour, figured out what their end goal is, and it troubles me. So I'm abandoning their platform to the greatest extent practical.)
That's not similar in spirit to "embrace, extend, and extinguish", and not even a good description of what they've done. There's no migration path from Reader to G+ (presuming that's what you mean by "the closed system"). There's not even a clear correspondence between the content in each, and meanwhile Google does provide a migration path to other RSS readers.
I think there is a clear argument for Google consolidating around APIs and their social network instead of federated protocols in the future. However, the whole "strategy to kill off RSS" thing is silly and undermines the other arguments you're making.
The bittorrent and gopher comments were facetious. It's not at all clear that all browsers should have a button that appears when a page has an RSS feed and, when pressed, opens a different web page to then enter the address of that RSS feed into your reader. Zawinski's Law was not meant as praise.
The lack of that RSS button is no more evidence of trying to kill RSS than the lack of gopher support is evidence of Google's plot to make sure that Gopher will never rise again like a phoenix and supplant the World Wide Web once and for all. Instead, you make sure extensions are able to build that button for those that want it (or put an option to enable it in about:config) and you call it a day.
I try to avoid these sorts of submissions, mainly because of their non-content and the subsequent familiar discussion, but somehow they keep reaching the front page.
It’s certainly your prerogative to use whatever you like but the incorrect assertions bother me, especially the prevalent one: “It's because I think that Google is now working against the potential of the open web”.
Here’s a rebuttal in the form of a partial list of links to Google initiatives that exist primarily to advance the “open web”:
I don't think the closure of Google Reader was any indication to the contrary, and all of these are certainly much more important to the web than yet another centralized RSS reader.
Other errors in that post: Chrome never ‘dropped decent RSS support’ as it never supported it to begin with, it was actually Firefox that dropped their support. Also there is no evidence that Reader was closed to “drive users to Google+”, there is no proof nor common sense explanation to support that assertion.
Here’s a rebuttal in the form of a partial list of links to Google
initiatives that exist primarily to advance the “open web”:
That's funny. I see Chromium as their OSS alibi for doing whatever non-standard they want with open-web HTML, which doesn't exist in any other browser. But now it's not "proprietary", because it's in a OS code-repo somewhere.
So now it's "standards" even though it hasn't been submitted, ratified or approved yet. And everyone else, if they dont want Google's stuff to work poorly in their browser, has to be a dog and follow Google's leash.
I consider Chromium some of the worst damage Google has done to the open web.