Brad Hill writing for AllThingsD:
Technology is a resolutely balkanized world of island-states (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and many others). Each one is trying to convert itinerant visitors into permanent residents, lock them in to using high-margin attractions, and dissuade them from migrating elsewhere. Users are willing to be tied down for the right combination of features and services, but the market is insistently mercurial, flowing to new platforms and brands according to demand and expectation.
When an active product is shuttered, the most polished announcements frame the closure as beneficial to the user. Beneath that shiny message lies the reality: It’s not about commitment to users, it’s about developing users who are committed to the network.
I use several Google products – namely Google Search, Maps, and Mail – but the recent closure of Google Reader points out the inherent risks in trusting third party service providers. Because we don’t pay for the services directly, we don’t have any contractual rights that can prevent service providers from pulling the plug.
If Google Search or Maps were ever shut down (highly unlikely but you never know) I could easily transition to another service. But if Google closes GMail, what would become of my existing emails, settings, labels? It would be an extremely disruptive change, one that I hadn’t fully considered before today.