Thursday, July 29, 2021

Economics Of Evil Revisited

Eight years ago I wrote Economics of Evil about the death of Google Reader and Google's habit of leaving its customers users in the lurch. In the comments to the post I started keeping track of accessions to le petit musée des projets Google abandonnés. So far I've recorded at least 33 dead products, an average of more than 4 a year. Two years ago Ron Amadeo wrote about the problem this causes in Google’s constant product shutdowns are damaging its brand:
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.
Below the fold, some commentary on Amadeo's latest report from the killing fields, in which he detects a little remorse.

Belatedly, someone at Google seems to have realized that repeatedly suckering people into using one of your products then cutting them off at the knees, in some cases with one week's notice, can reduce their willingness to use your other products. And they are trying to do something about it, as Amadeo writes in Google Cloud offers a model for fixing Google’s product-killing reputation:
A Google division with similar issues is Google Cloud Platform, which asks companies and developers to build a product or service powered by Google's cloud infrastructure. Like the rest of Google, Cloud Platform has a reputation for instability, thanks to quickly deprecating APIs, which require any project hosted on Google's platform to be continuously updated to keep up with the latest changes. Google Cloud wants to address this issue, though, with a new "Enterprise API" designation.
What Google means by "Enterprise API" is:
Our working principle is that no feature may be removed (or changed in a way that is not backwards compatible) for as long as customers are actively using it. If a deprecation or breaking change is inevitable, then the burden is on us to make the migration as effortless as possible.
They then have this caveat:
The only exception to this rule is if there are critical security, legal, or intellectual property issues caused by the feature.
And go on to explain what should happen:
Customers will receive a minimum of one year’s notice of an impending change, during which time the feature will continue to operate without issue. Customers will have access to tools, docs, and other materials to migrate to newer versions with equivalent functionality and performance. We will also work with customers to help them reduce their usage to as close to zero as possible.
This sounds good, but does anyone believe if Google encountered "critical security, legal, or intellectual property issues" that meant they needed to break customer applications they'd wait a year before fixing them?

Amadeo points out that:
Despite being one of the world's largest Internet companies and basically defining what modern cloud infrastructure looks like, Google isn't doing very well in the cloud infrastructure market. Analyst firm Canalys puts Google in a distant third, with 7 percent market share, behind Microsoft Azure (19 percent) and market leader Amazon Web Services (32 percent). Rumor has it (according to a report from The Information) that Google Cloud Platform is facing a 2023 deadline to beat AWS and Microsoft, or it will risk losing funding.
The linked story from 2019 actually says:
While the company has invested heavily in the business since last year, Google wants its cloud group to outrank those of one or both of its two main rivals by 2023
On Canalys numbers, the "and" target to beat (AWS plus Azure) has happy customers forming 51% of the market. So there is 42% of the market up for grabs. If Google added every single one of them to its 7% they still wouldn't beat a target of "both". Adding six times their customer base in 2 years isn't a realistic target.

Even the "or" target of Azure is unrealistic. Since 2019 Google's market share has been static while Azure's has been growing slowly. Catching up in the 2 years remaining would involve adding 170% of Google's current market share. So le petit musée better be planning to enlarge its display space to make room for a really big new exhibit in 2024.


David. said...

Writing about Gartner's latest cloud report, Tim Anderson recounts Google's customers unhappiness:

"expressed concern about low post-sales satisfaction when dealing with Google Cloud Platform (GCP), aggressive pricing that may not be maintained, and that GCP is the only hyperscale provider reporting a financial loss for this part of its business ($591m)."

David. said...

Ron Amadeo doesn't hold back in A decade and a half of instability: The history of Google messaging apps:

"Google Talk, Google's first-ever instant messaging platform, launched on August 24, 2005. This company has been in the messaging business for 16 years, meaning Google has been making messaging clients for longer than some of its rivals have existed. But thanks to a decade and a half of nearly constant strategy changes, competing product launches, and internal sabotage, you can't say Google has a dominant or even stable instant messaging platform today."