Is Google Committed to “Free”?

Simon touched on Google’s latest offering Keep in a post yesterday, and how this product comes on the heels of Reader being abandoned. I’ve slowly come to grips with my Feeddemon and Google Reader partnership drawing to a close, but there’s something more frustrating at play here.

What I’m finding troubling is the lack of trust I now feel for Google and their commitment to “free”. Google was supposed to be the safe bet, but it clearly wasn’t. And now we’re forced to question what’s next? Gmail? Analytics? Apps? Feedburner? … We may just be a “spring cleaning” away from losing something else we depend on.

I’m not the only one. Om Malik has his own critique, and why he won’t be using ‘Keep’; and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at Forbes has admitted “Google trust issues“.

Part of this is simply my faith being shaken, and the risks that go along with “free”. Companies and products go away. That’s a fact, and we all keep our data well protected for that reason. I’ve been a big believer in free Google services over the years; but I’ve also known its limits. Google has killed services before. This time… it just happened to be a service I considered important.

Marketers often talk about branding. Some use the term to refer to logos and colour palettes, but the smart ones know branding is about the impression you leave. Evoking a feeling from customers. If Google doesn’t think this kind of ‘start and stop’ product turnover doesn’t have an impact on their brand… they’d be mistaken. User trust? Having faith that a product will be around tomorrow? Brands are built around stuff like that.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    Regrettably, their for-money services are less functional than their free ones…

    I tried to create a for-pay google business service for an MP who needed the usual Google suite plus Tables (a large database that looks like a spreadsheet that multiple people can edit at the same.

    Having paid my money, I then discovered that Tables weren’t included!

    Trying to talk to their sales/marketing people on the phone was unsuccessful, so I cancelled the service and we fell back to using the free Tables, denying Google a bit of revenue and some good press.

    Until Google starts a division strictly aimed at providing boring, business-quality services to anal people, they will artificially limit their profitability, and annoy their business customers…