Feature

The problem with Google's product-killing spree

It's becoming an issue of trust

The king of search revealed a shiny new note-taking app called Google Keep on Wednesday, allowing smartphone owners to quickly jot down checklists and all the little inspirations they come across every day. Think Evernote, but Google-branded.

The product looks excellent. Need to save a cool photo you found online? Not a problem. Import a shopping list from your computer to your Nexus 4? It syncs that automatically, too. Google Keep, in other words, is a fine and useful ancillary product. And still, plenty of folks are saying, "Thanks, but no thanks."

"It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote," says GigaOm founder Om Malik. "But I still won't use Keep. You know why? Google Reader."

It is hard to trust Google to keep an app alive. What if I spend months using the app, and then Google decides it doesn't meet some arbitrary objective? Evernote has my data and frankly, I'm glad to pay them to keep it because they are who they are. One of the reasons I use Evernote is because it is their only thing. (For now.) Evernote is focused on making the service better. And it keeps that focus every year. [GigaOm]

James Fallows at The Atlantic has a similar concern: "I trust Google for search, the core of how it stays in business." Same with Maps, Gmail, Drive, and Earth. "But do I trust Google with Keep? No."

The idea looks promising, and you could see how it could ended up as an integral part of the Google Drive strategy. But you could also imagine that two or three years from now this will be one more "interesting" experiment Google has gotten tired of. [The Atlantic]

It's easy to see how Google's recent streamlining-spree is creating trust issues with users. And it's not as if Google has done a great job communicating its future plans to anyone outside the company. (That's why everyone was shocked when Google Reader was suddenly canned.) Instead, Google is choosing to double down on fewer core products. Less clutter, more Google+.

Keep may or may not end up joining Buzz and Reader in the great Google Graveyard. But the lesson we're starting to learn is that suddenly losing access to Google services is the trade-off we make for getting to use a company's free tools. It's not our stuff; it's theirs.

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