Last night I dreamt that I arrived at the office early. No one was there. I plugged my laptop into the monitor on my desk and refreshed my browser to access my Gmail account when, instead of the normal inbox view, I was greeted with a slick splash page.
“Welcome to Google+ Messages!” blared the interstitial. As I clicked through the slick web tour, festooned with beautiful photos young people, I read how I would be enjoying a new social messaging experience! Google had taken the next step in the evolution of messaging (which looked oddly like Facebook Messages) and integrated Gmail into Google+. I could now share messages with people in my circles, who could comment on every thread. My entire email inbox was splayed out into an activity stream with +1 buttons.
Like Taylor on that beach far in the future I screamed, “YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!”
Then I woke up. It could never happen…right?
I hope that thought went through everyone’s mind when Google launched Keep. It certainly was on James Fallows’ mind when he saw the announcement. The name of this product must seem like a cruel joke to Reader users. What incentive do they have to keep any of their free (or even paid) products running? The free products don’t bring in any revenue and what they consider strategic today may not be tomorrow.
A better proposition for end users is to depend on paid products from a smaller company that wants to build a sustainable business. Beware of free. Why invest in Keep when Evernote exists?
“Officially, Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web”…As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy…” — James Whittaker “Why I left Google”
Whittaker’s exit post is an interesting look into one person’s take on what’s going on at Google right now. The few lines above really struck a chord with me. Whittaker goes on to state that sharing is happening a lot, mostly on Facebook, which is true but it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, it’s easy to share on Facebook (maybe too easy) but starting a blog and publishing on your own site isn’t that much more difficult. Discovery isn’t a problem either since Google search indexes everything and if you want notifications services like Twitter, or better still App.net, can replace the wall/activity stream of content gulags like Facebook and Google+.
Whittaker quotes his daughter as saying “social isn’t a product…social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Quite true. But the people are also all on the Internet and it’s full of great ways to connect and share that don’t involve turning your life over to one company. It might be easier but why give them all the power? Because everyone is there?