Leaving Google - one small step at a time

by Volker Weber

Google used to be the hub for my Internet use. Best search results, first usable web mail client, curator of my RSS feeds, central location for all mobile devices to sync up with, fast web browser and bookmarks synced across machines. I was a happy camper, a really happy camper. Google would work with everything I own. And everything I borrow. Setting up a new device was just a matter of adding Google account credentials.

When Google started to become Google+, I was aboard. It was simple and elegant. Google added stuff I did not care about, but it was easily ignored. Unlike Facebook there were no in your face games, no stupid poll apps. Sharing was easy, and you did not have to become friends with everybody who knew your name.

And then things started to fall apart. There were a number of tipping points. Even a year after launch, Google would not consider supporting mobile platforms beyond iOS and their own. The mobile web site got worse and worse. Then they dropped ActiveSync support from Gmail. Google Reader was shot in the head. And one by one, I had to find workarounds and solutions outside of the Google hemisphere. I started syncing Gmail with Outlook.com. I have months of emails, all contacts, my calendar on the Microsoft site. As soon as Microsoft supports the Mac with Outlook.com, I am ready to jump.

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The latest tipping point was last week in New York. Google+ was inaccessible to me. It would not work on the Lumia, it would not work on the Yoga. Twitter and Facebook had no issues at all. My choice of a Google service had cut me off.

Time to make another decision.

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I started taking a leave from Google+ last weekend. And woke up my Facebook account. And things look better than expected. Finally I have access to a social network from all my mobile devices. Friends on Facebook were very welcoming. A few dozen people who followed me on Google+ followed along. And on the upside, Facebook lets me share to (Facebook) public, so people who are not my friends can still join the discussion.

And while I was in the US, I used Bing and HERE instead of Google for search and maps. With excellent results. The German Bing site does not come close to what US users enjoy. But it might provide a glimpse into the future. And to the next small step.

Google, are you still listening?


Hi Vowe -

It's been a while. I agree with you on most of these things. More than anything else, Google has shown that it is unwilling to provide stability on things people come to rely on. Those things are given away "free" in most cases (the quotes are because you pay with a bit of privacy and advertising) but sometimes that can be expensive.

I'll keep using Google to search as long as the results are good, but I'm reluctant to invest my time and energy participating in its other tools only to have them jerked away in a ham handed attempt to leverage me into Google's other offerings.

Andrew Pollack, 2013-07-23 01:17

Out of curiosity, why doesn't G+ work on the Yoga? I would assume one could access it with a browser (IE)?

Joachim Bode, 2013-07-23 10:12

That was my assumption as well. But it's not working on Windows 8.1.

Volker Weber, 2013-07-23 10:14

Well. It is working for me with IE 11 on Windows 8.1 in compatibility mode (not on the Yoga, but Lenovo X1).

Martin Imbeck, 2013-07-23 11:25

Good for you. It wasn't working for me, and that was my point. Access to Twitter and Facebook was easy, Google+ impossible. Google lost.

Volker Weber, 2013-07-23 11:27

I guess the difference is that the X1 runs Windows 8 while the Yoga runs Windows 8 RT... a difference which many users don't really get.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2013-07-23 13:39

I am sure somebody at Google does know the difference.

Volker Weber, 2013-07-23 13:40

Certainly, I'm not suggesting the exclusion is not intentional.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2013-07-23 14:44

If you are looking for other search engines i recommend Duckduckgo https://duckduckgo.com

Thorsten Mohn, 2013-07-23 17:02

it is hard not to see how Google is becoming much like IOI over time, even if IOI is a fictional company.

John Head, 2013-07-23 20:01

@John Head: IOI is evil...

Christian Tennigkeit, 2013-08-14 00:53

I feel both MS and Google are each preparing for a shift in directions. This is all intuition, zero research/fact.
The Windows phone was tempting but I felt I'd lose access to creative niche apps or hackability.
Again, zero research (shameful).
But after leaving a Nokia N8, I realized intuition is what made it like a friend. The other phones seemed to say be thin, be light and screen size matters.
Am I off about the Windows phone?

Mark Correia, 2013-09-08 02:23

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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