In this business, you can’t count on anything having longevity. To avoid new services that are likely to get shut down within a few years, you’d have to avoid every new tech product. Products and services lasting more than a few years are the exception, not the rule.
And unfortunately for users, Google doesn’t owe anyone a “conversation” about what they do with their products. Companies can do whatever they want. They could shut down Gmail tomorrow if it made business sense. There wouldn’t be a conversation.
That’s right. Nobody should assume that because they are using something now and relying on it, it will exist forever. Especially when it’s free. Yes, it’s unpleasant. Yes, it’s annoying and frustrating. But neither Google nor other companies owe anything to their users (for the most part). Google decided to kill Reader for a variety of reasons and you can bet they did realise how much grief they will get for it. And they still decided it’s worth killing it.
In business whenever your service has any meaningful amount of users, killing it or even just removing/changing some features will result in some people being (occasionally very) annoyed about it. But that’s natural — that’s what happens in business. And as Marco points out, a few weeks later nobody cares anymore. Someone else will come up with a new/better product and people will be happy again. And later on, when this once new and great product gets killed, the cycle starts again. That’s business — put up with it.
With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
— Tim Cook, September 28, 2012
Apple broke its ties with Google which resulted in not only removing the YouTube app from iOS6, but mainly in replacing Google Maps with Apple’s own mapping solution. Everything got even more interesting after it turned out that Apple’s contract with Google still had a year to go and that it was Apple’s decision to terminate it early. While the YouTube app is now already available for download from the App store, Google Maps app for iOS does not exist and iOS6 users are stuck with clearly inferior (both from data quality and feature perspective) Apple maps. This is my own no-inside-information theory about why Apple launched Maps even though this service was not ready for prime-time.
In the olden days (read: before they became competitors), Apple and Google representatives used to sit on each others management boards. But then Google started eating Apple’s cake (especially thanks to Android) and Apple’s management became almost obsessed with annihilating their main competitor. Being so dependent on Google for such a vital part of modern smartphone functionality as maps are was not what Apple would want to tolerate for longer than absolutely necessary. Moreover, Google’s maps experience on Android have been superior for years and Apple could do nothing about it. So over three years ago Apple started acquiring talent and technologies and building partnerships in order to come up with their own mapping service. But as Apple painfully learned later, building a world-wide mapping solution that can compete with Google Maps is extremely hard, even for a company with almost unlimited funds.
Now, why Apple did that? It is almost certain that already months before iOS6 was announced, Apple’s engineers and testers must have known that their maps will not be ready on time. They knew their product is getting better every day, they were ironing out bugs, adding more and more data, making maps more accurate. But they must have known they are not going to make it on time. And they must have raised it to Apple’s senior management: Maps will not be market-ready for iOS6 launch. At least not to Apple’s standards.
However, Apple’s choices in this situation were extremely limited and none of the possible options was very palatable. Delay iOS6 launch? Call Google and ask if the contract Apple terminated could be re-instated again? Tell everyone that iOS will not have Apple maps after all? In the end Apple management chose to stick to their guns (and to hope that ‘it won’t be so bad’). Unfortunately for Apple, their hopes died just a day after iOS6 was released when reports about errors, missing cities, incorrectly named continents etc. started coming from all over the world.
Today, a week later, Apple’s CEO formally acknowledged the problem, apologised and even suggested alternative mapping apps users may want to consider until Apple’s own maps get into shape. To be fair, it takes balls to openly say such a thing, especially given Apple’s pride in their products and their ‘policy’ of shipping only when ready. Now Apple has just one task — to work really hard to improve their Maps significantly enough to get back to the game because when (not if) Google releases their own Maps app for iOS, Apple’s job will be much harder. Customers tend to be unforgiving…
For July 2012, StatCounter pegged Chrome’s global market share at 33.8 percent, up from 32.8 percent in June and from 22.1 percent in July 2011. According to StatCounter’s data, IE remains strong with a 32 percent share, while Firefox is steadily losing ground and currently hovering around 23.7 percent. Apple’s Safari browser comes in fourth with a 7.1 percent worldwide market share.
Google has done it. And they have done it by rapidly and continuously developing a browser from nothing. And by making it fast and offering it on all main platforms. I remember how four years ago I installed the first beta and was amazed how much faster than IE it was. Microsoft’s innovation cycle on 18+ months simply could not keep up with Google’s machine. And let’s face it — Chrome is a way better browser than IE is. Hands down. In fact I will go as far as saying that a good chunk of IE’s current share is in fact because of large corporations forcing their employees to use it. Well, let’s see if IE10 can revert this trend… I remain skeptical.
So it’s 3rd of May today and that means that Google has about a month to start proving that the promises it made earlier this year. Let’s recap what we can look forward to:
- Google TV will be on majority of new TVs
- Android apps will be beating iOS apps to the market
- Android tablet of “the highest quality” (auto-translated)
It’s great. Only one month to go all this will be a reality. Or could it be that Eric Schmidt was perhaps a bit too ambitious? I mean, it’s great to aim high, but these are very serious claims. And if Google fails to deliver, their credibility in terms of any future predictions will be seriously undermined.
That’s much more like the real Google experience. I am very excited now! Bring the Google Glass on!
(via The Atlantic)
Just a couple of days ago, Google announced their new future concept/vision/idea/hallucination that they call Google Glass. At this stage, as was nicely put by Joe Stracci it is not more than a “cool” video. What it does do though is showing Google’s thinking about how to become even more present in our daily lives.
In the initial announcement post, there are several somewhat confusing statements. My favourite one is:
We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.
I seriously struggle to see how constant pop-up notification in front of my eyes mean “getting out of way”. Not only it is very distracting, but I can totally see this being quite dangerous (how about to check your Google+ notifications while driving?). But I also understand what is Google trying to do. It is trying to become fully integrated in people’s everyday activities, it’s trying to create a world where there is practically no escape from the on-line community. This sounds as much fun as Mark Zuckerberg’s belief that there’s concepts like public and private are mutually interchangeable. As we are the commodity Google is selling to advertisers, the more they know about who we meet, what we do, what we look at and where we are, the better for their ad-driven strategy. Now, if over 96% of my revenues were coming from adverts, I would probably also look for as many ways as possible to learn more about the people I am serving the adverts to. Which is exactly what Google has been doing for years (just read all the Ts&Cs for Gmail etc.).
The difference with Glass is that it takes this consumer behaviour monitoring (read: spying) to the next level. Glass is meant to break the last natural barriers that still limit the amount of stuff Google knows about us. No need to take your phone out of your pocket anymore. No need to unlock it or even to swipe to read notifications. Everything is instant, omnipresent and real-time. And bi-directional — from Google to us and from us to them. No escape from it. Luckily, we all know we are safe. Surely, we are safe because we can trust Google. Or have you forgotten about their Don’t be Evil strategy?
Google Inc. is close to launching a cloud-storage service that would rival one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups, cloud-storage provider Dropbox Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
Like Dropbox, Google’s storage service, called Drive, is a response to the growth of Internet-connected mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and the rise of “cloud computing,” or storing files online so that they can be retrieved from multiple devices, these people said.
This is, of course, hardly surprising. In fact, it is surprising it took Google so long to come up with a service of this kind. After all, Google is effectively providing a ton of cloud storage already through its existing services like Gmail and YouTube. Google knows more about cloud storage than anyone else. It holds more data than anyone else (even though Facebook is closing in). But regardless of that, Dropbox’s position in the multi-platform, multi-device, end-user-oriented, file-based cloud syncing services remains extremely strong. Up until now, none of its competitors managed to seriously threaten Dropbox’s hegemony. Can Google change this?
Cloud storage has been around for many years now and several providers tried to convince users that their cloud is “unique”, better, different. But only Dropbox, so far, managed to combine ease of use, reliability and attractive pricing and gradually gained a critical mass of users. That’s what lies in the heart of its success. Now, Google is surely capable to create an easy to use and reliable service too. In cloud storage, there’s not much UI to talk about (and UI isn’t Google’s strength anyway) so one of the main differentiators can be price. Google, even today, is offering over 7 GB of storage to every Gmail user for free. I bet that the basic free of charge Google Drive package will offer more capacity than the 2 GB Dropbox is offering today. If I were to guess, I’d say it will be 5-10 GB or even more. As opposed to Dropbox, Google uses its own already existing, well proven and fully scalable infrastructure and it should therefore be relatively easy for them to offer more for less.
Only a few years ago the concept of a mobile app store did not exist. Or at least not in a sense as we know it today. Yes, it was possible to get third party apps for your smartphone (mainly Symbian or Java), but the experience was quite lame — no integrated environment, no common policy, no app reviews or ratings, very difficult traceability, no updates, complicated installation. The list goes on and on.
Today, on the other hand, every smartphone platform has its own app store — be it Apple’s App Store, Google’s Market, RIM’s App World, Nokia’s (now almost dead) Ovi, Microsoft’s Marketplace or Amazon’s Appstore. With varying degrees of success and major differences in user experience and app selection, all these app stores* aim to provide a seamless and integrated user experience for discovery, purchase, installation and updates of applications for a range of mobile devices. App stores truly revolutionised the way we perceive value of our mobile devices and the mobile ecosystem as such. And a completely new domain of the SW industry evolved from it.