Can we still rely on Google?

Yesterday, Google announced that they would be shutting down a number of services. While none of the services on the list should be too suprising (Google had previously announced that they would be killing Wave and Knol), it seems that Google is putting just as much effort into ending these services as it put into launching them, which is to say, not much.

Google Wave #

Last year when Google announced they would be giving Wave the axe, they said they would be working on ways for users of Wave to “‘liberate’ their content from Wave.”
Today, Google is letting users of Wave know that they will be able to export all of their Waves as a PDF until April 30.

That’s right. liberate your Waves by converting them to a freaking PDF!

Not a format that encourages continued collaboration, like HTML or some customized Atom format.
Not even a format that follows the email metaphor, like mbox.

A format that is so far from the goals of Google Wave, they might as well have offered a zip file of screen captures.

Knol #

In other news, Google Knol authors will be able to export their articles directly to

Hold the phone…what!?

Apparently, rather than trying to migrate content from Knol to Google’s own Blogger platform, Google is completely turning its back on authors. Or maybe they just assume that, after being let down by Knol, the authors won’t be keen on trusting their content to Google again.

Alternatively, it would have been nice if Google could have worked out a way to move some of the Knol content to Wikipedia.

Friend Connect #

Which brings us to Friend Connect.

Google launched Friend Connect in 2008 (around the same time Facebook launched Facebook Connect). Over the next couple of years, Google tightly integrated Friend Connect with Blogger as a way for authors to easily conntect with and engage their audience with comments, polls, recommended content, and more. Friend Connect was also promoted to developers at Google I/O and through other channels, so it was used on many sites outside of Blogger.

Now that is is being discontinued, sites that have come to rely on Friend Connect will have to find alternatives. The social features that they have integrated, as encouraged by Google, will be totally broken when Google pulls the plug on March 1, 2012.

For most sites, this means they now have to spend money for a developer to, at the very minimum, remove all of the Friend Connect code from their site. Otherwise, the sites just won’t load correctly after the deadline passes.

To say that Google Friend Connect is being replaced by Google+ is an apples to oranges comparison. While they are both social products, Google+ doesn’t even begin to provide third parties the level of integration that Friend Connect provided.

Dénouement #

So what have we learned from this?

It feels like Google is playing the part of the boy who cried wolf. They always come out swinging with the next hit product that will revolutionize the web, they may or may not do anything to promote it, but once the breeze changes direction, Google will forget all about it and pretend the whole thing never happened.

I appreciate that Google wants to put more wood behind fewer arrows, but the way they’re going about this leaves much to be desired.


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