Google does some spring cleaning

19 Mar 2013

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog

I was once in awe of Google with its incredibly ambitious and often audacious plans to create things that we could not have dreamt of as little as ten years ago.

Google Earth, Street Views, Google Maps and Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print), a service that searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition, and stored in its digital database.

But these are just the best known of thousands of projects Google has embarked on that no one had thought of doing before, had the guts to attempt or had the disposable money to fund.

As ambitious and audacious as they were we have all come to depend on something that Google has produced, most likely Google Search, Gmail and Android OS. You simply can’t escape using something from Google sometime. In fact, with Android, you can’t really use the smartphone running it without having Google or Gmail identity.

For these gifts we are truly grateful because Google magnanimously gives most of them to us for nothing. Our mere consumption of their ‘free lunch’ generates revenues from the other side of its business model – advertising revenues and the sale of data connected from us freeloaders. Even though we don’t buy much from Google we do buy a lot of stuff from companies that Google collects money from.

Be that as it may, Google has started to change the way it thinks in terms of keeping many of its projects and products going. Last year, it began the process of what it called ‘spring cleaning’ seeking and eliminating products and services that it didn’t think were worth supporting any longer. I’m guessing that this translates into ‘things that no longer generate money-making data.’

Writing for Google Blog, ’ Urs Hölzle, SVP Technical Infrastructure and Google Fellow (not sure what they call women that reach the same level) said, “We’re living in a new kind of computing environment. Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple devices. It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact.”

That was the precursor of the announcement that no less than 70 projects, products and services in the Google arsenal would be discontinued, including the ever-popular Google Reader. Mind you many, if not most, have probably never been heard of by the masses but the Reader dumping served up a lot of negative press. It was a great tool collecting, collating and aggregating diverse RSS content into web feeds. Google claims it has been dwindling in usage and will have to be put to sleep.

That’s all well and good but what about the ‘undwindled ones’ that still rely on, even love it? Bad luck, they will just have to find an alternative. For Google customers, and aren’t we all indirectly, getting excited about new Google things may need to be tempered with the knowledge that it may some day just disappear. What sort of faith can you put in any company that has that attitude?

However, you have to give credit to Google for being so pragmatic and, well, business-like. How many CSPs would love to dump ancient tariff plans and services that cost money to maintain but carry the fear of customer backlash if they are ended. Apparently, the new age digital service providers don’t have these qualms – the new motto is “build it and they will come, dump it and they will probably stay, but who cares if they don’t.”

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