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Recently, Google announced their decision to shut down Google Reader. This latest step in opposition to an open Internet in favour of Google+ has led me to a decision of my own. It's time to expunge Google from my life, to the fullest extent practical.
It's not because Google chose to shut down a free service they were offering, or because of privacy concerns. It's because I think that Google is now working against the potential of the open Internet, and because I think that one gets a better product when one is the customer as well as the user.
As I explained over on Hacker News:
I don't think that Google is acting in opposition to open standards in general, because for the most part they benefit by them.
What's clear is that:
Google is seeking to increase the monetary value of its users
the way to do that is with social media (see Facebook, who are winning this battle hands down)
they will push open standards under the bus where necessary, in order to drive users to Google+
As the former PM for Reader puts it (https://www.quora.com/Google-Reader-Shut-Down-March-2013/Why...):
"Let's be clear that this has nothing to do with revenue vs operating costs. Reader never made money directly (though you could maybe attribute some of Feedburner and AdSense for Feeds usage to it), and it wasn't the goal of the product.
Reader has been fighting for approval/survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I'm pretty sure Reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened. It was often for some reason related to social:
2008 - let's pull the team off to build OpenSocial
2009 - let's pull the team off to build Buzz
2010 - let's pull the team off to build Google+"
The following is a list of Google products I use, and what I've replaced them with. I'll update it as I go.
Finally, thanks to everyone who has emailed and / or raised issues to make suggestions. I promise I'll reply as soon as I can; I've been a bit swamped since the posting to HN.
I've liked Chrome for a while, but several of Google's decisions (e.g. not adding RSS support, in order to drive users to Google+) have made me sad. Despite the fact that I still think Chrome's developer tools are better, I've switched to Mozilla Firefox. I can trust the Mozilla Foundation, and I can't trust Google.
I've moved my videos over to Vimeo, buying a paid Plus account for US$60 / year. That means I don't need a Google+ account in order to participate in video discussions, which means I've been able to close ...
I only had a Google+ account in order to participate on YouTube. Now that I've switched to Vimeo, no more Google+.
I've stopped using Google to sign in to sites such as Stack Exchange, and now I'm using myOpenId.
I'm currently trying out an account with Fastmail (an Australian company). So far their support has been excellent, and they offer an automatic migration from Gmail that copies over all your old email using IMAP. Very smooth. See Gmail migration for details of the migration process I used.
Drive, Calendar and Contacts
I've replaced Drive, Calendar and Contacts with my own installation of ownCloud. It's great - I've got full two-way sync with my Android devices, and complete control over my own data.
Maps / Navigation - Web
I'm trying out OpenStreetMap for now. Not as polished as Google Maps but it seems usable.
Yet to Expunge
Google Groups are great for ad-hoc social groups. E.g. I created one to organise reunions with members of my pre-natal class. I don't know what I'll use the next time I have a need for this sort of thing, but will update this page with whatever I choose.
I'm stuffed on this one. Google is still (for now!) better than both Microsoft and Apple. But there are two potential replacements on the horizon: Firefox OS and Ubuntu for phones. Perhaps my next phone won't be Android, and in the meantime, I'm looking to install some decent privacy & ad blocking tools on my current phone. I'll post details here as I go.
Maps / Navigation - Mobile
Sygic seems to be the go here. It's a lower priority for me as I don't use either Maps or Navigation very frequently on my phone.
Isaac Su has brought to my attention the fact that Fastmail offers an XMPP service. So that's what I'll be using in place of Google Talk.
Hints & Tips
I've received a few emails asking for the processes I used to migrate from Google services. I'll write them up here as I have the time, and as I develop them :)
- sign up for a paid Fastmail.fm account, with enough storage to take all my Gmail
- use the Fastmail import feature to read all my Gmail in one go, using IMAP
- set up a forward from my Gmail
- set up a vacation responder on Gmail, to notify people of my new address automatically
Then, at a later date (probably in a fortnight or so) I'll kill off the Gmail account altogether.