Monday, March 25, 2013

The average lifespan of canceled Google services and APIs is 4 years

A lot of people, myself included, are upset at Google's decision to eliminate their RSS reader, Google Reader. Perhaps Charles Arthur was one of them, because he has just written an article reporting the lifespan of 39 canceled Google services and application programming interfaces (APIs).  It turns out that the mean life span of canceled projects is 1,459 days, just under four years. The article has a table listing the start and end dates of the 39 services and APIs.

I use Google Reader in my work and, until now, have been having my students use it.  We use other Google services even more -- Google Docs, Blogger, Google Plus and Hangouts are central to my teaching and other work. I would be happy to pay a reasonable fee to use those services, but would think twice about requiring my students to do so.

Google had their reasons to shut Reader down -- it saves them some (very small) percent of their infrastructure cost and frees up some people for other work, but it harms their reputation. The folks who are now having second thoughts about relying Google services and APIs tend to be active -- educators, journalists, IT professionals, application developers, etc. Alienating one of these folks is a bigger loss to Google than losing a casual user.