Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Effect of Product Shutdowns on Google’s Reputation

Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica:

We are 91 days into the year, and so far, Google is racking up an unprecedented body count. If we just take the official shutdown dates that have already occurred in 2019, a Google-branded product, feature, or service has died, on average, about every nine days.

Some of these product shutdowns have transition plans, and some of them (like Google+) represent Google completely abandoning a user base. The specifics aren’t crucial, though. What matters is that every single one of these actions has a negative consequence for Google’s brand, and the near-constant stream of shutdown announcements makes Google seem more unstable and untrustworthy than it has ever been. Yes, there was the one time Google killed Google Wave nine years ago or when it took Google Reader away six years ago, but things were never this bad.

For a while there has been a subset of people concerned about Google’s privacy and antitrust issues, but now Google is eroding trust that its existing customers have in the company. That’s a huge problem. Google has significantly harmed its brand over the last few months, and I’m not even sure the company realizes it.

I get where Amadeo is coming from because I, too, have virtually no trust in Google’s ability to maintain projects long-term. I wonder how much this realistically impacts their reputation, though — mostly because technology companies are barely trusted at all. Reading a comments section on the internet is scarcely recommended, but I found plenty of educational feedback on Matt Blaze’s recent editorial on software updates for the New York Times. If you’re in the tech industry at all, I think it’s worth reading.

An optimistic take is that Google is cleaning house and focusing on a set of core products and services from which it can collect data to sell advertising against. But that’s unlikely. There’s a greater chance that they’ll introduce another chat app by the end of the year.