It all began when Google decided to axe their Reader service (switch reason #1). Google Reader
is was regarded as the single go-to solution for an RSS aggregator. It was The Little Google Service That Could, and everything it did, it did well. An API used by countless of 3rd party services and mobile apps, fast, clean, integration with other services like Pocket, sharing to social media, etc.
Since I used Reader multiple times a day, and there initially wasn’t an awesome alternative around that had the same to offer, I was really displeased. Especially since, in my view, together with Gmail, it was one of the irreplaceable cornerstones of Google’s application landscape. Why are they discontinuing it ? I’m pretty sure it has to do with money somewhere (as in not-generating-a-fortune money). Removing iGoogle ? That I understand.
Ever since this news was published, I have switched over to Feedly. As long as Reader is still alive, they sync with it, and once it dies, they (promise to) switch over to a proprietary system called Normandy. I’m cool with that, because Feedly has filled the Reader gap to the best extent of all the alternatives.
Then there is also the fact that I switched from an Android smartphone to a Windows Phone one in December 2012. I changed partly because I simply wanted to try something fresh. After having used Windows Phone 8 for a couple of weeks, I realised I wouldn’t want to go back to an Android experience (on a phone). I still have an Android tablet to tinker around with, but I am of the opinion that WP8 is the superior smartphone platform today.
I use the Google services on my Windows Phone, most prominently Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and to a lesser extent Google Drive. I never really cared for SkyDrive, until I moved my pictures to it as a cause of switch reason #2: Picasaweb.
Picasaweb, the online photo album service of Google, I was always reasonably happy with. I found it a bit unintuitive at times with the coupling to the Picasa desktop application with regards to online synchronization, but it offered good features and storage space. But then Google decided to hide Picasa(web) in the background and annoyingly push for integration in Google+. In fact, I think that annoyed me the most. Yes, you could go back to the classic Picasaweb view, but I am sure it too will be axed in favor of Google pushing their social network down our throats. I don’t want my photo albums on a social network, only a selection of separate pictures.
So I gave SkyDrive a try, also because I though it would be handy to move my Dropbox files there, and end up with one integrated system for pictures, documents and files that are automatically synced, easily shared, and provide a good online interface to share photo albums. As an extra, SkyDrive currently has roughly the same pricing as Google had until about a year ago: around $5/yr for 20 GB. Switch reason #3: storage pricing. Granted, my Google storage subscription plan is kept as an early adopter, but if I want to expand it, or I miss a payment, pricing will become $10/month for about the same. SkyDrive is unquestionably the cheapest at the moment.
In conclusion: so far I switched RSS reader, online file storage and online photos to Microsoft. The integration on their mobile platform, interweaved with social media content, is awesome. Google’s integration used to be awesome, but at least for me, it’s dwindling at a rapid speed (especially photos). I still use Google Drive, but that I could also switch very easily to SkyDrive. YouTube I don’t care for much (Vimeo is a good alternative), and I already switched search engines long ago to DuckDuckGo.
Remains: mail, contacts and calendar. The most difficult triplets to switch. I have a huge history kept in Gmail, and my calendar and contacts are meticulously maintained. An import of all my mails from Gmail to Outlook.com has already been completed, but for the moment Gmail is still ahead in terms of speed and options. Labels I can map to Outlook categories, but that manual task is beyond my situation. The fact that many logins are linked to my Google account helps them a bit as well.
But it won’t take much anti-user decisions on Google’s part to make me also switch those last remaining services over. And why wouldn’t I, aside from the hassle ? It would mean an even leaner integration on my phone, desktop and possible future Windows tablet.
I kind of just ‘had it’ with them, to be brutally honest. It has actually come to a point where I trust the old Micro$oft more than Google. Who knew ?
Oh, I even forgot to mention what irritates me the most about the current Google policy. The fact that they deliberately ignore the Windows Phone customers. There are official Google apps on every platform (Apple and even Blackberry), but they obstinately refrain from releasing Windows Phone apps for Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Drive, etc… I guess they are afraid of something. This is nothing more than blocking a promising player in the mobile market. And that is exactly the kind of egotistic behaviour that ticks me off, and drives me further away from them. Remember your own slogan, Google: “Don’t be evil”.