Sunday, November 17, 2013

Delivery: What Google Sucks At

A Google User Waiting For KitKat 4.4
Google does a lot of things amazingly well. They've got what is inarguably the best mobile OS in the world. They've got the best small tablet. They've got the best search engine. They've got the best deal on a high end smartphone, and the current fastest smartphone in the world. Best free email. Best social network. Best maps. Best wearable tech and on and on, etc. They do so many things well, that it's amazing to me they fuck up this very important aspect of the user experience:




That's a pretty big example. A few weeks became half a year. But it's not just things for iOS. And it's not just the broken promises. It's a culture of making people wait.

Google announces they are handing out "custom URLs" for Google Plus users. Now, I've got a pretty common name, so I was refreshing and refreshing and looking because I wanted to jump on it immediately. I wanted my fair chance at having my name for this custom URL. Within hours all my friends started posting about how they got theirs, and my hopes began to sank. After three days had gone by I knew Google had fucked me.

Sure enough, a week later, I'm finally asked if I want +ScottWilson234324234 or some such nonsense. They had already given my name to somebody else. I never even had a fair chance. They made me wait. They didn't care. And that's the pattern right there. 

1) Announce some thing as "available now!"
2) Roll it out slow as hell, or not at all
3) Piss everyone off waiting for it. 

Android KitKat update for Nexus 7 2013 was announced FIVE days ago and started rolling out. An update for a tablet with perhaps 10 million users tops. I happen to be one.

Exactly what the fuck is taking so long? Why do *I* personally have to wait five fucking days for something other people are already talking about? I just read the Nexus 7 2012 models are getting the update already. Why am I waiting?

And it's not just software updates either. Sometimes it's even built into the coding practices. I play the Google game Ingress. The game has badges you earn for achievements. One of those is for holding a "game portal" for over 20 days. Like say, this one I've been holding for almost a month:

However, if I look at the game data:

The game says I've only held a portal for 14 days. No 20 day badge for me for no good reason. Sure, eventually it will update. But if that portal gets destroyed in the meantime? I lose out. I won't get credit for it. Because fuck the player. It's too hard to do it right. We'll just sync shit up when we feel like it. And again, we'll make him wait. 


Google needs to fix their culture of making people wait. They need to start making commitments with care, and they need to start delivering when they say they will. Better, they could emulate the way companies better at it do it. Apple waits until they can give it to everyone at once. They release a new product? Everyone can go get it. They release a software update? Everyone can get it. Apple does a lot of things wrong, but they usually deliver

Is this enough for me to abandon Google? Oh hell no. Google is still the best ecosystem, and they still have best in class products and services. They also happen to be one of the few ethical companies left on Earth. But I'm calling Google out. You have a problem with delivery, and you need to work on it.