2.12.2010

Google Does Its Best Imitation of Microsoft

There's been quite alot of justifiable furor over Google's latest offering, Buzz. It appears that Google stole a page from the Microsoft playbook, the evil playbook. You see, Microsoft has a long and painful history of release and patch software publishing. They'd push an almost done piece of software out with the intention of using early adopters as unpaid and aggravated beta testers.

From a business standpoint this is a solid tactic. Microsoft has grown into the de facto operating system and office suite on the planet largely due to the release and fix philosophy. The only thing is that end users hate being used as non-volunteer guinea pigs. End users just want their shit to work, they don't want to help Microsoft figure out what's wrong and then have them fix it weeks or months later. Its part of the reason I do my best to avoid Microsoft products as much as possible.

And Google has done the same stupid, stupid thing with Buzz, their attempt to destroy Facebook and Twitter. Only they rolled out this new service without bothering to code in end-user controls, important end-user controls like, oh I don't know, privacy, notifications and other pretty basic service requirements. Google has taken information that many people don't necessarily want made public and went ahead and made it public without regard to their customer base's wishes.

And when a company starts acting without the slightest regard to its customers then they are strolling the fine line between good and evil. And Google has publicly stated their philosophy is to not be evil. Well, Google, Buzz is perilously close to being evil in addition to being non-intuitive, oddly slapped into Gmail and in desperate need of some end-user controls. Without some controls on my end, I'm liable to shut if off altogether.

I don't get why Google, ostensibly a very well run "smart" company, would risk pissing off so many users with this half-baked offering. Much like I don't get why Google decided to change how information is displayed on my Google home page where they forced me to put up with a huge space wasting gutter navbar on the left side of the screen. Its only through the use of an extension have I reclaimed that space. Google is well aware of people's hatred of this stupid, unnecessary space waster and yet they do not appear to be planning to do anything to fix it.

How many more missteps will Google make before people really do start think they are just another evil corporation bent on nothing but shareholder profits and maintaining their market shares? Many people already consider Google the next great big evil internet behemoth and its hard to argue against them lately.

Google needs to pull its head out of its ass and realize that end users can be fickle and, when pushed too hard, will just leave Google altogether.

Google needs to fix up its shit before pushing out any more partially finished products like Buzz. Until then, it will flounder and fail.
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