Google's new note-taking service launched last night and it's been catching a lot of flack from bloggers. If the early responses are any indication, Google Keep is going to fail not because of any of the service's shortcomings but because no one trusts Google.
When I reviewed Google Keep last night I pointed out that Google Keep's biggest flaw had nothing to do with its features; the problem was the company behind the service. And from the posts I've read so fat it would seem I'm not the only one who thinks that.
That doesn’t invalidate my opinion of Google Keep, but it does remind me that we can’t trust Google not to rip the rug out from under us. If anything the demise of Google Reader reminds us that it is much safer to use a third-party app that isn’t dependent on Google’s servers.
There were already a couple editorials online last night who are just as annoyed with Google as I am. Om Malik, writing over at GigaOm, put it thus:
It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.
I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken. No conversation — dead. The service that drives more traffic than Google+ was sacrificed because it didn’t meet some vague corporate goals; users — many of them life long — be damned.
Mike Masnick of Techdirt hits the nail on the head:
I use a variety of Google products, and normally, this might interest me, but I'm seriously having doubts about bothering, following the abrupt shutdown of Google Reader. Is it worth entrusting data to a service that might be killed abruptly? It seems fairly bizarre to violate users' trust so much, and then days later ask for it right back.
It all comes down to trust, in the end. When you think about it, our chief objection to Google Keep is that no one trusts Google anymore. If they're willing to kill a tool like Google Reader at the drop of a hat then how do we know they won't repeat that betrayal?
Popularity? That wouldn't stop Google; it certainly has not stopped them in the past.
I have been told that Google Reader had more active users than Google+ the week before it was killed. I can't name my source but I trust them enough to repeat the claim. Also, in spite of what Google reps claimed when GR was killed, I'm told that GR usage had not declined. Growth had stagnated when Google shredded GR's sharing options in order to integrate Google+, but Google Reader was still more popular than Google+.
Just to put things in perspective, Google+ reportedly had 343 million users in January (assuming the external estimate is correct). Gmail, another immensely popular Google service, had 450 million users in June 2012.
If Google is going to simply ignore the interests of a group of more than 350 million users just because the service doesn't fit some vague corporate ideal then how do we know that they won't do it again?