Did Google Underestimate the Fallout from its Reader Shutdown?
The launch of a new Google product or service is usually met with a lot of fanfare and buzz. For Google Keep, the company’s newly released answer to Evernote, that hasn’t been the case. Instead of the usual excited posts from Google fans and stories about how Keep might change the way we organize our lives, most coverage of the service has asked the same question: why bother? This Storify stream, put together by Sarah Perez, really captures what people are saying about Keep right now.
With the Google Reader sunset announcement still fresh in their minds, ordinary Google users and tech journalists alike are leery of becoming invested in yet another Google product — and understandably so. Google has killed off many different projects in the past, but none with the stature of Reader. For many who use the service, it’s part of a daily routine and an integral part of keeping RSS-based information organized.
And now Google is offering Keep as a way to help people organize their information. The timing of Keep’s release, the product’s mission — heck, even the name — all seem silly when you look at the overwhelmingly negative sentiment toward Google and its decision to shut down Reader. It makes you wonder: does Google pay attention to this stuff? Did the company think this whole Reader outrage thing would blow over? Based on everything I’ve been reading about Keep in the past day, it hasn’t.
Google severely underestimated the impact the Reader shutdown would have in maintaining the trust of its users. That trust is crucial, because when users aren’t paying to use a service and are offering up their data in return, they really have nothing but a company’s good word that a service will stick around. Some people invested hundreds or thousands of hours in Google Reader in exchange for data that Google happily cultivated. With the plug being pulled on Reader, Google users might fear a similar fate for Keep someday.
When that fear becomes a real possibility instead of a longshot, worst-case scenario, as it has now, users are right to be skeptical. Google should have thought long and hard about the potential fallout of its Reader decision before it pulled the trigger. Keep is the first product to suffer from the backlash, and it might not be the last.
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