This is the first of many quick posts for our (soon to be released) magazine format for Haut Tech. It can be hard to set aside the time to post full length articles, but it is still important to share thoughts on new developments in our field so – Quick Bytes is born.
And so as not to waste space on this first entry of what is likely to be many for this category – I am looking today at a lot of articles about the latest in a series of “realignments” that Google has been undertaking. Today, we’re seeing several articles about the announced retirement of Google Reader.
I do use RSS (Rich Site Summary) to gather much of what I read to keep up on the industry, and after the removal of native RSS integration in the Safari browser, I did try Google Reader. Honestly, I never found it to be as easy to manage as I wanted – so my current RSS aggregator of choice is a private dashboard in Bloglines. I know a number of people don’t understand how we use RSS – but as a writer, I love it. I have trusted sources I use to monitor the fields I need to keep an eye on. My curated RSS feeds provide me a stream of select updates on the industry from writers I respect.
There has been a lot of noise on the subject, in many cases from people who I don’t think ever actively used RSS. Or if they did, tbey certainly don’t use it the same way I do. Bob Warfield, of the SmoothSpan Blog wrote one of the best articles on the subject. But for me, the point of this little article isn’t just the eminent loss of Google Reader. The real story is how Google is changing as it continues down the road of transition from a a disruptive innovator to a publicly-traded company chasing higher valuation.
Personally, over the past year, I have been surprised by the announced retirement of iGoogle, my default browser home page, the above mentioned Google Reader retirement, and the loss of “Google for Domains” which became Google Apps for Business. I didn’t know about the retirement of free mail forwarding through GMail for domains until my personal domain mail account suddenly stopped working. “Poof” And I’m quite sure there have been services that I just don’t use that Google has also shed in the last couple of years.
I don’t think the “Google of old” – the brand we all fell in love with and that became the unbeatable default search engine for the world – would have undertaken these changes. I wonder how Google will look in another year. Will it be able to retain the position it has as the arbitor of the Internet. I can remember the day when we said, “If Google can’t find it – it probably doesn’t exist.” We all tried new tools as Google Labs pushed them out. Some were great sucesses and a lot fell by the wayside. But we loved the company that was always trying.
For me the lesson in this is that a brand can be much more than a name. People like me saw the Google brand as a personality – a personality we felt we understood and liked. I’m now concerned that personality is being taken away. I’m looking for alternatives. For a high tech consultant and marketer, that is an interesting turn of events.