Can You Trust Google?


In Google, we trust. A few days ago, though, Google did something that has to call into question whether the search and advertising behemoth is trustworthy. Trust Google? That’s getting harder.

Let me be clear that I’m talking about some very specific stuff here. I still think my decision to start using a Chromebook was a good one, and I feel the same way about my Nexus 7 tablet. And despite Google’s continued tweaking of the way they do search and what it means to your privacy, I’m OK letting the Google pipe stay open all the time in all my devices.

But if you think you can have everything Google offers for free, or even that you can rely on Google to keep providing tomorrow what it was promoting yesterday, it’s time to wake up.

I’m painfully aware that this story can sound whiny, or entitled, or negative in any number of other ways. I promise, it’s none of those things. I’ll always defend Google’s right to make a profit and I’m conflicted as to whether GOOG “is a monopoly” and should be legislated toward involuntary business change. It seems, by the way, that Google is changing the way they handle certain things to avoid exactly that.

My concern is YOU. When you take advantage of all those free Googies, are you ready to deal with the changes that you’ll encounter whenever Google says so?

Google’s latest series of changes has been announced. In a blog post innocuously titled “Winter Cleaning”, Google has discontinued a few products and services, and in most cases their decisions seem to be a simple matter of concentrating on things that they can sell or give away more of; big companies don’t like marginal sellers.

Most cases. Not All.

One of things Google is discontinuing is Google Sync. To be honest, I think Google Sync is a buggy, unreliable piece of code, and that people shouldn’t have ever trusted it for hedging their bets between Microsoft Outlook and Gmail. And, oh yeah: if you’re a paid Google Apps user instead of a free user like most people, Google Sync isn’t going away—yet.

But yikes.

The discontinuation of Google Sync means that if you’re using that tool to bridge Outlook and Gmail you have to either start paying for a Google Apps account so you can keep doing that, or accept that Google has forced your hand; in the next few weeks, you’re going to have to make a choice. Again, I support Google’s right to make money, and reiterate that the responsibility for managing your business lies with you. But whether you naïvely believed Google would keep giving you all that free stuff forever, or are more pragmatic about things, you’re now getting just a few weeks notice to enact a complex business change.

At least that’s better than when Google gave us all under a week to stop using Microsoft Office files in Google Drive.  And Google wins either way, of course, with you paying for that victory.

There are a couple of takeaways from this story.

First, Google really does seem to be entering a business phase where they fear anti-trust regulation. And that’s great, so long as the result isn’t a series of fear-based maneuvers by Google; nothing’s more dangerous than a terrified monster. What would be nice, and could make things a lot easier to navigate for everyone, would be if Google would finally reveal their secret sauce.

But the big point is that you need to start managing all these “free” tools, and figuring out how relying on them can impact your business. You can contact me here to talk about it.

Trust Google? In one way, sure: You can absolutely trust Google to look out for Google.

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