Google can be an amazing company, willing to get involved in almost anything and try to build any kind of product. It seems like there is nothing they won’t take a shot at. Even pouring money into automatic cars, which is about as far from a search engine as you can get, is a big deal.
At the same time Google can abandon products people depend on (Reader) or leave them hanging in the wind (Finance) or put a lot of effort into and then fade away (Analytics). The most maddening thing is you have no way to reach out to anyone to complain, or query, or for all I know offer them money.
This is a crazy way to run a company.
Sure most of Google’s income is advertising or one type or another, and not everything contributes much to their bottom line. Google seems to spend a fortune on things like Android which brings in little money (even Microsoft appears to make more money from it). Yet many services that could use a little support seem to get nothing. Why they continue to exist is a mystery though you never know from the outside if some useful information is collected that might help other parts of Google—I think that’s why Analytics exists. Knowing what people are doing is always a good thing.
What drives me nuts in Finance is that no one is paying any attention to it. Burger King Worldwide and Walgreens Boots have been in the top gainers every day all year (though sometimes they vanish for no obvious reason). Burger King of course was bought by some Brazilian company and no longer trades and Walgreens switched to Nasdaq from NYSE. But every day there they are, with their last day price increase. Clearly no one at Google is paying attention or cares. You can report a problem all you want but no one reads that either. Why doesn’t Google just admit they don’t care and kill it? Perhaps no one knows it exists any more.
Also take the stock screener, what a pile of broken code. It has some cool features but over the years it seems to have rotted away.
Analytics of course is used by millions of websites and apps. Yet the most irritating thing is that for years setting the date range never sticks, and there is no default option which includes today. I want to see statistics with today in context or the current week or month, but every time I go to the page I have to reset the damn date range. Maybe there is some url magic I can perform to make it stick (the url seems to be all encoded however), but why should I? When I worked for the travel company I watched our apps traffic every day and this drove me nuts.
Of course you can say “but this stuff is free so you can‘t complain”. But I say “then why do you leave unsupported and potentially broken toys out on the internet for people to depend on”. Either treat them as a real product or kill them. Reader did in fact die once they gave up.
I still think there will come a day where Android won’t be what it is today either, as Google will need more revenue or at least reduce expenses. With rival Apple making 92% of the profits in the smartphone industry and Google basically nothing Android is an expensive playtoy that someday will have to pull its weight. If Oracle wins at their eternal attempt to make Java pay Google will really have to make a decision that could affect everyone other than Apple. Android is not something they can ignore or even abandon so it will have to change into something that does make serious money rather than simply provide some ancillary benefits.
At some point I’m guessing Google will have to care about everything. If ad revenue eventually falls apart with people blocking ads or the price dropping or Facebook eating the world, then it has no choice but to kill off whatever is not making sense.
At least Yahoo’s finance page still seems to work: ironic since Yahoo has killed more things than anyone.