The problem with Google

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: March 21, 2013

Google, Google, Google. There's hardly a place you can go where you don't see some gadget or computer that runs on Google or features Google programs. What was once just a meager search engine that was second to Yahoo! Search has now become an entire suite of products, software, and services that's taken the tech world by storm. Despite the amount of influence that the company now holds, the company still displays a huge flaw that I think needs to change.

The products aren't secure.

When I say "secure" I don't mean that they don't protect your privacy (although I always have my skepticism and reserves about any program no matter how secure they claim to be). Rather I mean that you never know when the products are going to disappear from the market, even if they are successful and have a lot of support. I'm learning not to get too attached to certain Google Apps because you never know when they're going to be pulled.

Going hand in hand with that issue, I feel that Google releases some products too early. Recently Google introduced Google Keep, which is supposed to compete with the likes of apps like Evernote. While I understand they're just doing business and trying to make a good thing better, I feel like they could have done a much better job. I don't think the features of Google Keep are as good as Evernote, plus Evernote already works across most major platforms so the sharing of "notes" and other media files are seamless - Google Keep is still only available for Android. I feel like there's no real competition from Google Keep if they're trying to convert users of Evernote. While there might be hope in the future, it's the initial release of the application that can make or break a person's opinion of a product. First impressions are everything; I mean, look at Bing. Nobody uses it even though it's gotten exponentially better since its release, but since so many people had less-than-good results when using the Microsoft search engine it's hardly given a second thought when it comes to the popular vote.

Google is in a position right now where their name is big enough to float them the attention they want for new products. Even if the product or app is mediocre, the fact that it's from Google sparks a lot of interest on its own. But how long will this last if the products never have a long enough life cycle to make an impression for anybody? You have the staple apps like Gmail, YouTube, Play Store, Chrome, etc. that are likely to stay a while and then you have the other apps that get trashed after a few years like Picnik, Google Listen, Google One Pass, etc.; even apps that have been around for as long as nine years (Google Reader and Google Labs) aren’t safe. I just don’t feel like there's too much reliability stemming from some of their apps and software. There's a sense of reluctance to switch to a new Google App because you never know when it won't be there.

Other companies certainly run into the same problems every once in a while, and probably the company with just as much in-and-outs as Google is Microsoft - but they're not nearly as relevant right now.

Apple has even gotten in on the action with their most recent and more notable attempt, Apple Maps - but for the most part I feel like the removal was warranted given the huge wave of negative responses (and lost travelers) that was received after its release. At least people used Google Reader and Google Labs. Contrary to what Google states, RSS feeds are most certainly not dead and I think the strong wave of people against its removal that's set to be effective as of July 1st of this year warrants a reconsideration - at least, if that's the real reason (which many are speculating over).

Don't get me wrong, I like Google. They have some great products out there, many of which I even use on my Apple device. I've been using Google as my search engine for as long as I can remember; Gmail has been my main source of e-mail since my family stopped using Comcast; and Chrome has taken over as my primary browser from Mozilla Firefox. But I think, to an extent, Google needs to stop getting in over their heads.

I understand their want to monopolize the entire industry (even if I don’t agree with it), but if they're going to do that kind of thing make sure you're doing it the right way - take out the products that people really don't want, and reduce the amount of products you have to remove by developing the programs to be competitive first instead of creating a mediocre program from the start and developing on it as time progresses. I understand that everything has to start somewhere, but I know Google can do better than it has been. If you're going to release a service that's supposedly going head-to-head with competing service, make it so there's no question as to which product is better; preferably in your favor.

For a full list of all of Google's retired programs and services (and even an ominous pre-dug grave for the pending Google Glass) you can take a solemn visit to Slate's Google Graveyard and leave a flower on your most dearly missed service to begin the healing process. It's okay, we'll get through this together.

Readers, what do you think of Google's constant churn of programs? Do you think they're trying too hard, or do you think they need to constantly produce competitive services and apps to keep people interested? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!