As anyone who's followed Google from the get go knows, they have a long and glorious history of labeling products and services as betas, often leaving them as such essentially forever. Rarely it seems do many Google offerings ever graduate to official 1.0 release versions. For a very long time there seemed little harm in this. Now however, things are changing.
Google is beginning to shut stuff down at what anecdotally at least seems to be an accelerated rate. In their defense, counting Google Labs offerings, they offer an astonishing array of products and services, with more rolling out at a time. No reason to believe they'll all be hits or worth keeping around. Further, for the price they charge for most everything ($0), they are of course more than entitled to take stuff away.
Personally, and in particular as an Apple guy, I've not integrated Google into my life in any meaningful way. I do refer to it as a verb, and occasionally as The GOOG, but beyond search, a wonderful email address snagged early in the gmail beta (ha!) and one other service, I've stayed away. Syncing my Apple calendar and contacts with gmail always seemed to create issues, and it's doubtful that Apple will offer Google deeper hooks into iOS. And Google Docs and related services have solid iOS alternatives.
But now Google is pulling the plug on that “other service” I use: iGoogle. For those not familiar, it's a homepage you can customize and personalize with just about any content from just about any source on the Internet. Yes, there are many other such home page services, other ways to aggregate updated content, and even Google is (sort of) replacing it with Google Now which is “nice” I suppose. But without deep hooks into iOS it's not nearly as robust as it is on android devices. And no, I won't switch to an android device. I still find it excruciatingly painful to use. (Hell I'd switch to Windows Phone before android if you put a gun to my head to leave iOS).
This is mostly just a rant. I understand that Google must've made a simple business calculation about the ad money iGoogle brought in (or failed to) and/or their determination to focus on Google Now. Still, I can't help but think that they could've left iGoogle in place, without any support or further updates, for essentially $0. Yes there's some server capacity and storage taken up, but come on – at the margin that stuff is negligible for an operation the size of Google.
And yes I understand that Apple has also pulled the plug on services (Ping! and MobileMe say hello) but losing iGoogle stings. It was my homepage for years on multiple devices, iPads included – the very first link on my menu bar, and the page I returned to whenever I was done with just about anything else. It's what my brain has become accustomed to seeing as “information” in its most basic and aggregated form. Even a carefully crafted MyYahoo! page is sufficiently different that the transition is slowing me down, making information tougher to find and slower to intake.
I recently contemplated hosting my primary email with gmail, but losing iGoogle gives me pause. No, I don't think Google will pull the plug on gmail any time soon. And again, Google is perfectly entitled to shut down whatever they like. But I don't have to be happy about it. And I don't have to rely on them going forward.