Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

You're attacking a straw man here.

To attack Google for shutting down Reader in general is, I agree, silly. They don't owe us anything, and they managed the shutdown fairly gracefully.

But that's not what was going on in the comment you replied to. He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense. Google says they're shutting down Reader to put more focus on a smaller number of products, but they're just as scattered as ever. Pointing out that their words don't match their actions here is a perfectly reasonable thing to do here.




A lot of Googlers asked for reader to be saved as it was considered a very useful tool used by small amount of very devout users. The Google of today will cancel any product that cannot be monetized properly, ignoring all internal feedback.

Another example of how things have changed is the Hangouts app. Pretty much everyone who tested it internally asked for the status settings to be implemented before going public. It was ignored and that was the most criticized aspect of the app when it was publicly released.

The consequence of this is an eroded trust in the company and a reduced brand loyalty. I will think twice before using another Google product that might disappear in favor of some half-assed feature in G+, just because management has decided to bet the future of the company on social.


> He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense. Google says they're shutting down Reader to put more focus on a smaller number of products, but they're just as scattered as ever

You can't criticize Google for shutting down Reader and then accuse them of being scattered in the same sentence. By shutting down Reader, they are limiting their scattering, and Reader is not the only product they are shutting down.

> Pointing out that their words don't match their actions here is a perfectly reasonable thing to do here.

Very true, that's why I'm pointing out that your words are inconsistent :)


Huh? Of course I can accuse them of being scattered when they shut down Reader, if they still have a ton of other projects without any particular coherent goal, which is absolutely the case.

They want to shut it down, fine, I don't really care. But the result is not "focus".


Regardless of how many products they have, they still have one less after shutting down Reader. I'd say the argument still stands.


>Regardless of how many products they have, they still have one less after shutting down Reader. I'd say the argument still stands.

Not if, in the same period they "closed the Reader to in order to focus", they started more than one products, all around the map.

If I tell you:

"I stopped going to the gym in order to focus on my painting more. Oh, and I also started bowling, belly-dancing, snooker, and etching classes -- and I'm leaving next week for snorkeling in Thailand"

then I'd argue that me stopping 1 thing does not not in the least mean I'm more focused now.


That is fallacious. You're assuming they weren't going to start those other products anyway.


Google said "fewer products". Doesn't matter whether or not they were going to start those products anyway, what they're saying is incorrect.


Nothing fallacious about it.

The argument is they did it to "focus better".

You can not do something with the pretext of better focus and then do several other things that break that focus -- whether you were planning to do them anyway is irrelevant.

To put it in some (arbitrary but isomorphic to the argument) numbers, increasing your focus by 5 points and decreasing it by 20 still leaves you with a decrease of 15. Yes, it's better than decreasing it by 25, but that's not the point -- it's a minor pedantic correction. A decrease of 15 is hardly "focusing".


Only if your measurement is the number of products. If you were to represent each product as a point in a multidimensional space of features, and measure according to how well they were clustered, then the existence of Reader would improve the clustering of Google's products, helping to counter the existence of products like self-driving cars.


>You can't criticize Google for shutting down Reader and then accuse them of being scattered in the same sentence. By shutting down Reader, they are limiting their scattering, and Reader is not the only product they are shutting down.

No, you very much can.

Since, you know, they are shutting down a product in their main area of expertise, only to pursue BS non-products all around the map.


It seems that you and the Googlers have different ideas of what Google's main area of expertise is. It seems like you think it's "the web" — thus search, RSS, and I don't know what else you'd include — and they think it's "hacking", i.e. making things that were not previously known to be possible, e.g. a web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites, an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system, a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser, gigabit fiber to the home, robot cars, a free-software smartphone, groupware that replaces chat and email, JavaScript that runs fast, balloon internet, scanning the books of the libraries of the world, an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs, mass-market lifelogging, stuff like that.

I mean, they say their objective is "organizing the world's knowledge", but what's hanging up in the GooglePlex is SpaceShipOne, not a card catalog.


>It seems that you and the Googlers have different ideas of what Google's main area of expertise is.

The "Googlers"? Marketing and business persons did this. If you have followed the story, there were posts describing how actual developer googlers used and loved Reader, and even tried to save it.

>It seems like you think it's "the web" — thus search, RSS, and I don't know what else you'd include — and they think it's "hacking", i.e. making things that were not previously known to be possible, e.g. a web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites, an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system, a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser, gigabit fiber to the home, robot cars, a free-software smartphone, groupware that replaces chat and email, JavaScript that runs fast, balloon internet, scanning the books of the libraries of the world, an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs, mass-market lifelogging, stuff like that

Seems like you bought hook line and sinker the BS PR copy they give.

For one, their core business is ads. Not search itself, not Android (a loss leader) and surely not flying robot cars.

Second, nothing "hackish" or "impossible" about most of which you describe.

Only the "web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites" fits the profile --and that's based on that Stanford research the founders did, not Google work. If anything, it deteriorated over time, with BS non results and meddling with it to promote ads and/or G+.

And even that was hardly impossible. The Chinese search engine Baidu is based on similar tech, which was also created in the US, independently of Google, around the same time (even actually predating PageRank (it's even mentioned in Google's US patents).

An "an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system" was just a matter of resources and monetizing, not some special technology.

A "a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser" was bought from another company.

"gigabit fiber to the home" is offered in many parts of the world. That the US lacks in this area, is not something

"a free-software smartphone" -- what's innovative about it? They make money from ads. They give the software for free (especially since it was based on Linux and a modified Java SDK). And it's not like they made a killing off of it -- Samsung did.

"JavaScript that runs fast" -- Safari did that first (they released it to the public at the same time --Sep 2008--, but Safari as a stable version, Google as a beta of Chrome).

"an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs" What's that? Go? Because you make it sound like the created Erlang.

Etc. The rest are "robot cars" and "google glass" -- mainly half-baked prototypes, that tons of other companies would have put out if they a) have the money, b) liked to show half-baked stuff years ahead of any release date.

And "baloon internet". A PR stunt if I ever saw one.


Your disrespectful and patronizing tone is disappointing, but it would be more understandable if it were founded in a deep understanding. Many things whose possibility is now obvious were not obvious at the time; many things that are now being tried will fail.

To pick apart your post:

* "main area of expertise" is not the same thing as "main source of income".

* RankDex or for that matter HITS, is not the same thing as a search engine that you would actually use in preference to AltaVista; 1998 Google was already better than AV for the things that were in its index. Baidu didn't exist as a company until 2000.

* "just a matter of resources and monetizing" is hindsight bias. Hotmail was so sure Gmail was an April Fool's joke that they issued a response press release in which they offered more space than Gmail. The fact that Gmail was capable of offering two orders of magnitude more machine resources was, in large part, a result of internal infrastructural innovations at Google that weren't copied at other companies for many years. Of course, some people dismissed it as a "PR stunt".

* Where2 had a downloadable C++ desktop maps application and an idea about doing it browser-side when Google bought them. Gmail and Google Maps popularized AJAX, which had been previously considered impractical, despite our efforts at KnowNow.

* By "many parts of the world" do you mean a few apartment blocks in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo? I don't really think Kansas City is comparable in either density or wealth.

* I don't care what's innovative about Android (which, you forgot to mention, started as a separate company, like Where2). I care that I don't have to sign my first-born child away to Apple to program my smartphone. I'd care a lot more if Google had actually achieved what they set out to achieve with Android.

* If you're equating SquirrelFish (pre-Extreme) to the first release of V8, you're living in a fantasy world. There was an order of magnitude difference. Apple and Mozilla closed the gap substantially in the next few months because (a) V8 showed it was possible; (b) V8 showed how it was possible; and (c) V8 made it necessary.

* I meant MapReduce, which is another of those things that's obvious in hindsight, but was actually far from obvious, and which underpins nearly every data-heavy startup today.

* "Would have put out if" is Monday-morning quarterbacking, just like your hindsight bias on the other items. And there are plenty of companies with more money than Google that don't have robot cars on the road.

We'll see what happens with the robot cars and balloon internet. I think there's a substantial chance they'll fall far short of hopes, just like Wave (which I notice you didn't mention), but that's the way it is when you try things that may not be possible.

I'm not actually all that positive about Google, but I think that if you want to understand them, you need to understand what they value. You can do that without thinking, yourself, that it's awesome.


I don't think Google want to remain "experts" in the complex field of RSS aggregation anymore. It was probably a fun side project for a group of engineers, was written, then got sidetracked, then became not interesting to work on anymore, then was shutdown to focus on other more interesting tasks. Just like what their statement above says...


I think you're missing the point. Check out Google's mission statement:

> Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful

How is Google Reader less fitting than, say, self-driving cars or balloon Internet? An RSS reader is quite literally a way to organize the world's information, perhaps the most relevant of the product offerings.

It's not about what is "more interesting", but "more relevant". They're closing down relevant products for interesting ones, which is not good...


> How is Google Reader less fitting than, say, self-driving cars or balloon Internet? An RSS reader is quite literally a way to organize the world's information, perhaps the most relevant of the product offerings.

Balloon internet is pretty high on the "universally accessible" front, I'd say. With regard to Reader, Google has a different way of organizing and providing access to RSS, atom, and similar information, PubSubHubbub (PuSH) -- both the protocol and Google's own PuSH hub -- which they are continuing to support and move forward with.

While this is infrastructure rather than end-user technology, it, at least arguably, has potentially much greater impact in terms of organizing information and making it accessible, and is much more the kind of thing Google is especially well-positioned to do, whereas end-user UI consuming feeds isn't something that really needs Google to do it.


Would Google be more, or less, scattered if it shut down search and Gmail?

Anyway, I thought this was some discussion about how Google may or may not be making a decision that will later in hindsight turn out to been bad for Google, followed by a tangent about whether anyone is allowed to make qualitative statements about any decision made by Google.

The tangent seemed sufficiently uninteresting before it descended further into an argument of semantics.


Google Reader did nothing to contribute to "scatter" since it was closely related to gmail in function and interface.


Except what if Google wanted to kill RSS from the beginning? Feeds are the best way to bypass all "gatekeepers" and now they have questionable future because Google's "free" offering made competition pointless. The cache of feeds from 2004+ is also gone which is a whole other issue that leaves me very upset because that cannot be replaced with another web app.


> Feeds are the best way to bypass all "gatekeepers"

I'm not sure that's really true. PubSubHubbub -- which started out as a way to actively push updates to Atom/RSS feeds and has been generalized to be a way to do that for any HTTP resource -- seems to provide much of the same capacity, but to do so in a more general and better structured way (it requires the recipient to have the ability to receive as well as initiate HTTP requests, but it would be strange for someone complaining about Reader's demise to see that as a problem; any web-hosted feed reader is going to have to be able to serve HTTP requests anyway.)


> He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense.

They've shut down maybe 50 services over the past few years under this justification.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: