When you are the product

With the recent spate of Google killing off it’s free services and/or removing open standards integration, I’ve been wholesale reducing my use of their services.  As fast as I can find a reliable replacement.

I know, and everybody should already know, that if you’re not paying a price for a product, the real product is you. I had made peace with that years ago. Years. And I was fine with that.

My Google service use started, as with many, with GMail, because it was hands down the best free mail service ever. Then I started using Calendar, then Contacts, then Reader.  All free, all good, all capable of talking to all my devices (smart phones, laptops, etc).

They they decided to discard the fantastic Reader service. Oh, and by the way, were not going to be supported CalDAV (an open standard for calendar sharing) but only their own proprietary service.

And I went, woah now, what?

These are services I count on, every day, to organize a huge part of my digital and physical life.  And they’re now just…going away?? I don’t think so.

Then I realized, I don’t really have a leg to stand on, rage-wise. I mean, I don’t pay for these services, there’s no SLA Google can be held to. I have no recourse.

Well, shame on me then.

So I went looking for alternatives, and there are a ton, and of course they all cost money.  But they don’t cost ruinous amounts of money, and the money I spend, it gives the service provider an incentive to do things that I like, rather than just capriciously doing whatever they want.  I can vote on that now, with my money.  Paying for something gives me a say. Wild.

Anyways, not a big deal, but for simple services that run a large part of my life, I probably should be willing to pay for that.

Here’s how I’ve switched:

From GMail to Fastmail.fm

From Reader to newsblur

From Calendar to (sigh) iCloud.

From Contacts to (sigh) iCloud.

Yeah, iCloud. I *know*. At least they’re not rumbling about stopping supporting it, or not making it available via some open standards.  There’s a real hole in the market for calendar/contacts “services”.  I think it’s mostly because people use what’s installed by default, and don’t care about syncing, and those that do care, have an enterprise solution that’s all-in-one. If I had some working capital, I’d fix that.  I don’t.

Anyways, the takeaway is don’t hesitate to pay for services that are critical to you. Just because something is free and good doesn’t make it the right choice.


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