Next month, Google is shutting down the popular iGoogle Homepage on Nov. 1st, and many Google users are not happy. Like the Google Reader users before them, they can cry tough kitty all they want. Google does as Google does as Google does.
The iGoogle program has been around since 2005 and lets one bookmark all their favorite gadgets, read news headlines and play games right on their own personalized homepage. Many users simply loved this program and will hate to see it go.
As a user of many Google free products it also scares the bejesus out of me sometimes. Google has closed down some of their popular programs, and it leaves one wondering what is going next? My one main concern – will Google+ go the way of Google Buzz? Will Google drop Google+ and Google Hangouts?
As someone who is using and building up their contact list of subscribers… losing Google+ would be a major blow for me. Besides, while I like and use Facebook for family connections, Google+ has become my online marketing or business hangout – I simply don’t want to lose it. No matter how much I have criticized Google Search in the last little while, they do do something right, and in my opinion, Google+ is one of them.
While it has been described mainly as a ghost town by many and user numbers haven’t exactly been earth shattering – Google+ still plays an important role in Google SERPs and markup. After all the programs Google has closed, it is within reasonable thinking that if Google+ costs too much to run or usage drops significantly – Google may shut it down. Judging purely from past closures, it would not be a great leap of faith to believe it is indeed possible.
For me, another major worry is Google Analytics, will Google shut it down? While it is not totally accurate, the data is a bit off, I can’t imagine my marketing day without real-time analytics running in the background. It gives me so much information on how my actual visitors behave on my web pages and sites. Although it is probably giving Google invaluable search and site data, Analytics must be a very costly program to run, even for Google and their vast resources. Just hope it’s the last free Google program which closes its doors.
Another one is Webmaster Tools, losing this program would also be a major loss, especially if you use it to keep your site or sites in line with Google’s countless rules and guidelines. While it hasn’t been very helpful for me, I still check it to see if anything is totally out of sync with Google’s rules. Webmaster Tools is such an integral part of Google’s whole setup; one can’t imagine it going the way of other lesser programs, such as the Google Affiliate Network.
Perhaps, besides AdSense and AdWords, the only other Google programs, which I would be somewhat disappointed to see disappear, are gMail, Google Earth and Google Chrome. I occasionally use all of these and would hate to see them gone – especially Chrome, which I have installed on several of my computers. However, for privacy reasons, I have been using those less and less, so I could survive their closures without too many withdrawal pains.
Actually, if you’re concerned about your own online privacy, you’re probably better off staying away from Google and any free Google programs. Needless to say, for advertising purposes, Google is collecting every bit of data, every keystroke and every subject you have shown even the slightest interest in pursuing. While all this information is supposedly “collectively gathered and processed” according to Google’s prospective, please use your own discretion if online privacy is top on your list of priorities. Truth be told Google has become the largest list builder and consumer data collector on the web and in the world. This collected user data has become Google’s most valuable asset – one which can be milked for years into the future.
It’s simply the price we have to pay for using these programs, after all you didn’t really think these products were truly free, did you? Then again, is anything in life really free?
Google’s products and programs are no exceptions, while I don’t want to be too cynical, but one has to be realistic about Google’s ultimate goals and objectives here. It’s a publicly traded company, and generating revenue is its lifeblood – the more it makes the merrier everyone will be. Nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with Google giving us all these countless free products and programs, as long as we realize the price we’re paying for those products.
I for one, am more than willing to pay that price, and I truly hope iGoogle is the last one of Google’s products on the chopping block. At least for the immediate future, but I am not holding my breath.