Google recently killed Google Reader, a very popular product used to organize and consume RSS subscriptions. This was a surprise for me and many others, and the web started complaining rapidly about it.
This event made me think about all the products (that I use) that Google could shut down anytime they want: Gmail, Google docs, Google Calendar… And then I started getting into some kind of panic!
Cloud computing itself is amazing and brings flexibility and scalability in incredible ways to all of us, but as everything, it has its disadvantages.
I think we all know the pros, and they are easily identifiable, but the problem with the web products, cloud computing and SaaS comes when these get so popular and so widely used, that their power might become a serious concern.
On top of accessibility, scalability and convenience, cloud computing and web technologies can be changed, any time. Additionally, just the same way they are created and accessed, they can be shut down or sold.
Can you imagine what would happen if Facebook goes offline for a couple of hours? What about Gmail? Now this might sound unlikely, but so was Google Reader.
I think this is inevitable and it’s the way this industry is evolving. I’m sure solutions will come down the road to solve this risk… Probably that’s a good niche right there for disruption and entrepreneurship, who knows?
The only thing we can do now is selecting wisely the tools that we use, analyzing its user base, its company, and always put our time and effort around big players. Of course this won’t guarantee anything, as Google showed with Reader, but at least it reduces the odds.
By the way, this reminds me why Software the traditional way is not dead yet.
Example: Let’s say you are very used to Windows 7, you like it, and you’ve invested hours learning all of it, your employees are trained on it, and even your mom is used to it… Then Microsoft releases Windows 8, with a redesigned interface, you go to the store, you try it, and you conclude that you don’t need to upgrade, you can perfectly keep doing on Windows 7 what you would do on Windows 8, so you decide not to upgrade. It was your decision, not theirs. They can release as many new versions as they want, but it’s your call to change.
On the other hand, you use Google Chrome, a web based OS, or Gmail, or anything. In this case, if they change the interface, the look and feel, anything, you will have no other choice but to quickly learn the new “better” way…
Again, this has a lot of advantages, but this article is about the risk and disadvantages, so, to conclude, I strongly believe that as consumers we are giving up control for accessibility, and sooner rather than later, that control and power will need to be somehow regulated.
What do you think?