Trust is a very important thing in business. Without it, you can’t maintain a relationship with your customers. If your customers don’t trust you, they’ll just go elsewhere. It’s one thing to lose a customer based on price. Once they have enough money or believe the value in your product has returned, they’ll often come back. If they leave due to lack of trust though, it’s hard to get them back. Why would they think you would behave in a better manner in the future?
This is a problem that I think a lot of companies are running into lately. Facebook seems to violate the trust of their users regularly by continuously changing their users’ privacy settings. Path ran into something similar when they downloaded contact information from their users’ phones without their permission. Not every breach of trust has to be as extreme as compromising users’ privacy though.
Lately, there have been many companies shuttering services that their users count on. Most are due to the company being acquired or going out of business. Most, but not all. Google has been quite busy shuttering “underperforming products” since Larry Page took over as CEO. It’s true that those products didn’t have mass appeal, but most had groups of loyal users. The latest to cause an outcry was the closing of Google Reader. Reader was a beloved product for people that use RSS feeds to read the news. It was a very valuable service that people counted on as a part of their news reading day and, in the case of tech bloggers, as a part of their workflow. Google eliminated that service with little notice and with no real competitors ready to handle the customers that were abandoned. That broke the trust that a lot of people had in Google.
Now Google is rolling out a new service: Google Keep. This service seems to be aimed squarely at Evernote, which is a product with millions of loyal customers. Will some people defect? Undoubtedly. Some people are firmly entrenched in the Google ecosystem and want to spend all their time in it. (Ironically, these are the same people that slam people for doing the same in Apple’s ecosystem.)
I’m not one of those Google “enthusiasts.” I use Google products in certain circumstances and not in others. I won’t be switching over from Evernote. I have finally started using it on a regular basis as their newer features now handle all the use cases I want in one place and seamlessly across the devices I use. Now, if i trusted Google implicitly, I might switch over if they were to take the lead in features. After the way they burned so many with the closing of Google Reader, myself included, I have no intention to put data that is as important as what I store in Evernote into Google Keep. I have a feeling Google Keep will disappear, just as Google Notebook did several years ago and they’ll either roll it into Google+, which I see no reason to use at the moment or they’ll abandon it with no decent alternative, the way they just did with Reader.
That distrust of Google’s long term dedication to their products and users has made me start rethinking a lot of the ways that I use Google. Do I want to keep using Google Voice or do I need to find an alternative? I don’t want to potentially lose a phone number that I count on to forward work phone calls to my mobile phone. Should I continue to use Google apps to host my email addresses for my different websites or should I start looking into alternatives? These are all thoughts that have gone through my head lately. I’m sure that I’m not the only one. Unfortunately for Google, a lot of the people that they are upsetting are tech influencers and with fringe products like Google Keep, those are the people that they need to keep happy. (No pun intended.) Otherwise, they might not promote the product as enthusiastically. As for me, I’m not interested in even trying the service. If it sticks around for a year or two, I might play around with it. Maybe.