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Best Reason to Not Use Google Keep: Google Reader

unnamedGoogle’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?



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Steve March 21, 2013 um 9:09 am

I agree 100%. To be honest, I am about done with Google. Im going to start divesting myself of google products and google influence. The one thing I use the most they get rid of. Ive gone from ardent supporter to severe detractor, and google+ and ingress suck too.

I may even go to IOS or WP8

flyingtoastr March 21, 2013 um 9:25 am

Because Apple and Microsoft have never discontinued services before.

ev March 22, 2013 um 9:54 pm


Moriah Jovan March 21, 2013 um 10:26 am

I may be less unhappy about Reader’s shutdown than most because i didn’t rely on it too heavily, and I’m not a longtime user. I love the 3rd party app for iOS I use for it, though, so I’m holding onto hope they can cobble together their own backend,

Anyhoo, I think I’m one of about 3 people in the world who never got sucked down the Google rabbit hole. Gmail? Acquired an account when I got my Droid phone because they made me. Google docs? Nope. That’s what email and track changes is for (blah blah primitive blah blah). Google Drive? Not on your effing life. (As for Google+… LULZ)

For reasons I cannot articulate but started with the Gmail security ToS years and years ago (and took a lot of guff for it, too), I have never trusted Google with my stuff.

So while I’m mildly put out about Reader, I would have never used Keep anyway. I just don’t trust Google. I’ll trust another gazillion 3rd-party apps even when they have a glitch (like Dropbox, Pinterest*, and Evernote), but not Google.

*My love for Pinterest took a nosedive when they deleted a pin off a secret board (i.e., only I could see) for too much nudity. I’m porting all that to Evernote and then i’m done with them.

fjtorres March 21, 2013 um 3:44 pm

You are not alone.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up one day to discover I’m the last person on earth paying for my personal email account.
I have a gmail account–use it once a year at most–I have a Hotmail/Outlook account as a fallback in case my account providers gets put out of business by gmail but it"ll be a cold day in the amazon basin when I willingly give Google (or facebook) any meaningful personal info or let them mine my email or personal documents.
Like You, I don’t trust google.
More, I think their entire business plan from day one has been to copy somebody else’s product, give it away for free to sell ads, and put them out of business.
It worked when they did it to Altavista because neither Compaq not Yahoo understood what they had on the hands but since then they’ve been taking on players like Apple and Microsoft that don’t quit easy and are willing to fight back, and companies like Twitter and Facebook that know exactly what they’re doing and do it way better than Google. And their results (where it matters: the bottom line) are mixed. The search revenue is one big fracking stream but everybody else has been one cost center after another which why they are now getting serious about finding another revenue stream. They are belatedly realizing they might be a one-trick pony. (It is one hell of a profitable trick but sooner or later…)

Evernote may or not be ripe for destruction but their users seem to be pretty loyal so I suspect that Keep is going to have a hard time displacing them among anybody not a Google fan to start with. So the odds that Keep might go the way of reader are definitely non-zero.

Moriah Jovan March 21, 2013 um 10:45 pm

I tried Evernote a couple of years ago, but didn’t get the fuss. Then I read an article on Lifehacker about someone who had the same reaction I did. They said the trick is to load everything onto it. EVERYTHING. Then you start getting the drift. And…that worked.

So I’m trying to consolidate all my information in as few places as possible. I have been using Essential PIM Pro for years, but it’s falling down on the job in the mobile sphere. And that’s why I took another look at Evernote.

Mike McNamara March 21, 2013 um 10:27 am

I was a big user of Delicious until it was sold by Yahoo and plunged into uncertainty. The new owners may have realised that they made some early mistakes, but they never won me back as a user. It seems that there is no loyalty towards 'Users' no matter how many might use the product.

Of course a counter argument might be that as they were/are free versions and as there was no cost involved to use them, do we really have a serious complaint to make.

That said, it is about being able to trust a brand and it does now make one wonder how many other Google or other vendor products may just disappear in the future – Cloud Storage being one of them.

wireduser March 21, 2013 um 12:27 pm

Well it’s not about 'never discontinued services', as much as it is about trust in general.
My hotmail got upgraded to Outlook, and I certainly never asked for it.
But OneNote works quite well, even on Android.
I wanted to highlight the fact that I still have Symbian devices around, and I started using Google Contact sync on them probably around 8 years ago on my N95.
Suddenly Google told me to go….. Only because I use their services on devices they ignore?
What happened to just providing me the service and keeping me a happy camper.
Why not ask for a couple of bucks, I’d have paid it for a continues great service-level.
I really have no idea why they are being so harsh out of sudden, between the Billions they still think cutting people out of useful stuff is a good idea? Weird.

igorsk March 21, 2013 um 12:43 pm

You’ve probably seen it, but this post offers some hints about reasons behind the recent Google decisions:

Scott Tuttle March 21, 2013 um 1:32 pm

On the web there’s always someone willing to jump in and take over when people arent satisfied. Ask Myspace.

Wicke March 21, 2013 um 2:14 pm

This is why I don’t trust cloud software.

On the flip side, I’ve got a note taking application that I started using around the turn of the century. Even though the (one man) developer gave up on it more than 7 years ago, the software still works. With virtualization I could still be using it in 2040 if I wanted to.

Moriah Jovan March 21, 2013 um 10:40 pm

What is it? I’ve got a few ancient programs lying around I still use.

Angela Booth March 22, 2013 um 1:46 am

Yes, I’d love to know what you’re using too. I’m still lamenting the end of Lotus Agenda, 20 years on.

All my stuff (everything important) is in Evernote.

Jere Majava March 22, 2013 um 8:20 am

I share the sentiment but not really the analysis of the situation. Thing is, you just need to take a much more stoic stance towards *all* free services, not just Google products. Not trusting Google is may be a good idea, but you can’t really trust anyone else either. And yet, you must. There are millions of reasons why a free any service can go away, no matter how committed the service providers are to it.

With Google Reader the situation is not even that bad: you can export your content in a standardized format (which is becoming increasingly rare, btw) and start using one of the many alternatives. Compare this to your favorite social network platform being shut down. I mean, how do you "export" your network? This happened to Jaiku shortly after they were acquired by… um, Google.

Anyway, just like it’s good idea to constantly remind yourself of your mortality you should always expect the free service you are using to be shut down the day after tomorrow. Just make sure can export your data in some usable format and move it elsewhere. If there’s no such possibility in the first place you just shouldn’t start using the service in the first place.

Also, with free services you should always prefer services based on freemium business model rather than ad based or any other model where you, as a user can not create a client relationship with the service provider. With freemium even as a free rider you’re at least a *potential* client.

To recap: With free services you should always accept it’s all temporary. And when it goes away you wont be caught off guard. It was good as long as it lasted. Time to pack our things and move on.

Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity is buried by the neverending work project of neverendingness March 22, 2013 um 12:53 pm

[…] announcement of Google’s new notetaking service, Keep, was perhaps poorly timed… Why didn’t Google just keep its previous notetaking service, Notebooks, going?! Six […]

Ana March 22, 2013 um 3:45 pm

The main problem with Google isn’t they closing the service, the problem is that they practically monopolize that kind of service. I went to Google Reader when Bloglines announced they closed the service, as many others, but now we are desperately looking for alternatives, most likely services relied on Google Reader so the alternatives are few and suddenly overwhelmed.
So maybe I’m beginning to use bing instead of google, just to assure someone knows how to build another web search service in case Google decides closing Google.

Excuse my bad english, I’m fluent reading, not so good at expresing myself.

Das Netz verliert das Vertrauen in Google – WSJ Tech – WSJ March 23, 2013 um 1:34 pm

[…] Om Malik bei Gigaom in dieselbe Kerbe. Weitere Online-Artikel, die so argumentieren, hat The Digital Reader […]

Google not a serious business partner | Bill Bennett March 23, 2013 um 5:55 pm

[…] First Reason Not to Use Google Keep: Google Reader ( […]

O. Jackson April 2, 2013 um 9:58 pm

Meh. There are far more serious reasons not to trust google (small g is all it deserves) than shutting down a service.

Three simple items meant we could boycott that evil empire in ways that must make them howl with rage (one can only hope):

!) Firefox (not essential, there are others)

2) the Firefox 'No Script' download, and

3) 'Start Page' (the best free privacy protection my partner and I have ever come across).

Why bitch about google when you can turn your back on them and foil their every attempt at invading your privacy?

So incredibly satisfying.

Jorma KK Klanker May 16, 2013 um 3:52 pm

"I can’t name my source but I trust them enough to repeat the claim."
… if it’s not google statistics division, you don’t know jack schitt.

Nate Hoffelder May 16, 2013 um 3:56 pm

I know full well who that is:

vijay June 28, 2013 um 8:07 am

Dont worry Google keep wont be long, they have already started building a prototype of Google Note, Its a modified version of Onenote and Evernote.

All our google keep will be migrated to Google Notes.

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