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Has Google Shut Down SMS Search?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the so-long-farewell dept.

Google 118

hypnosec writes "Users in the US are reporting that Google has allegedly shut down its SMS Search service without any official announcement or notification. According to initial reports users are getting a 'SMS search has been shutdown' message. Navigating to the official Google Mobile website and clicking on SMS Search yields nothing but 404 – Page not found error."

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118 comments

Phase 1 Start Successful (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702127)

The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice under secret executive order from Obama have implemented Phase 1 of the Contiguous Lockdown System for rendering the contiguous USA into a Federal prison. With the Contiguous USA as a Federal Prison and all USA citizens designated as Felons, the program solved multiple national problems at once.

Sucks (5, Informative)

skipkent (1510) | about a year ago | (#43702131)

Sucks since I don't have a data plan... But an (very short) explanation is here http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/websearch/yKG7BGro7QQ/ntAXQWWKj70J [google.com]

Re:Sucks (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#43702159)

It's quite disappointing given they already abolished the Google 411 service. There are still plenty of folk without data plans, or who find themselves roaming where they have minutes and text messages but no data.

I understand Google's desire to move the world forward, but often these interfaces were useful, and sometimes they were they only interface available.

The idea that this is down to focusing on other products really doesn't wash. The products were both stable and likely taking almost no resources to maintain. If they did need anything to support them, I doubt it would be beyond the capability of an intern.

Re:Sucks (0)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#43702227)

if you were still relying on google 411 when it shut down and today still can't figure out what to do with it, then you have problems well beyond google 411.

Re:Sucks (1)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#43702311)

Your sentance doesn't really make sense, so I'm not sure what you mean.

If someone doesn't have a data plan, or is romaing and doesn't have access to data, what are your suggestions? There are other 411 services, but I haven't found one as fast or as accurate as Google's was.

Similarly, the SMS service provided an alternative way to conduct a simple google search. It wasn't a substitute for Google, but if you needed a number for the hotel you're staying at, or for the restaurant you're meeting someone at, it was a great tool.

Even if you do have data access, 2G is still common across much of the U.S. and frankly either of those two options was often quicker and more reliable than waiting for pages to load if you were in an area with poor coverage.

This is not about relying on these services, it's about appreciating them while they were available and recognizing that closing them removes a service that can't simply be replaced by a website - since their very existence was a recognition that the web is not always best.

Re:Sucks (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#43702735)

again.

you still have 411 today, and other free 411's if you look them up. just save them in your phone. you don't need data, or an SMS plan. 2G is still common across much of the US? who makes this shit up? Not many people even *provide* 2G anymore, and not anyone who has 2G is going to be posting on slashdot. Are there gaps in coverage, and areas under-served? absolutely.

I can get 3g in alaska, I can get 3g in wyoming. both of these are areas with extremely low population density and generally show no coverage.

Re:Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702887)

Everyone in the US offering UMTS/HSPA still offers 2g GSM/EDGE as well -- and on the raggedy edges of coverage, that's all you get. (Dunno about Verizon and Sprint -- they use a different family of protocols, maybe they've turned off their 2G protocols as you say.)

Re:Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43703177)

Verizon does indeed still have CDMA2000 1xRTT 2G service, everywhere that that 3G is offered, as well as areas where there is no 3G coverage. I know this because I'm currently using a feature phone that I had as a backup with no 3G modem. I immediately noticed that Google turned off their SMS service since I use it multiple times every day. Guess I'll just have to use Twilio and pay 2c a text to make something similar to it.

For certain wireless providers, e.g. Ptel which is a T-Mobile reseller which is not allowed to roam for 3G/4G data, large areas such as the entire state of Montana, most of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and much of West Texas have only 2G/Voice.

Re:Sucks (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43703473)

Last time I was in the States (about 18 months ago), I had 2G service only. This was in Florida. About 100 miles north of Orlando. Beside a lake. With a cell tower in clear view on the opposite shore.

Re:Sucks (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#43706419)

This is common in Tasmania, too. Telstra makes a pervasive advertising schtick touting the ubiquity of their NextG services, but it's a complete lie here. My closest cell tower is 34km away from my home in the Northern part of the state, and reception is spotty even in Hobart. So whether or not you have a data plan is irrelevant if you can't get access.

As a matter of interest, there re some apposite and insightful comments at the link posted by the OP in this part of the thread:

This is Google's take on it:

Closing products always involves tough choices, but we do think very hard about each decision and its implications for our users. Streamlining our services enables us to focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve people’s lives.

And here are a couple of the responses:

http://www.google.com/mobile/sms/search/ returns a 404-page not found message, not a thoughtful summary of the the 'very hard' thinking that went into the Google decision to summarily shut down a valuable service.

...

Google's decision to shut down the SMS search service only serves to widen the information divide between the haves and have-nots. [...] Google, I'll challenge you to take a look at this service from a social-justice lens. Please cut the crap about "beautiful technology that will improve people's lives" when you're only talking about improving things for the techno-elite.

Re:Sucks (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43706563)

I was wondering what all the hoohaw was over until I realised that all the free SMS/Web gateways that one used to be able to find apparently vanished some years ago.

Re:Sucks (1)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#43704895)

Not many people even *provide* 2G anymore, and not anyone who has 2G is going to be posting on slashdot.

I live in a US city of 100,000. I can get 3G coverage in a circle with a radius of around 3 miles. Beyond that, I can go 30 miles in any direction and have 2G coverage only.

Your idea that nobody provides 2G coverage is simply wrong. It's widely provided and is the default for many.

Re:Sucks (1)

u16084 (832406) | about a year ago | (#43704977)

The problem is not relying on google 411, the problem is google feeding its customers apps, the pulling them out because they're "beta" or no longer fit their model. Ill remind you again, when google pulls gmail from out beneath your feet.

Re:Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702421)

There is no other software company with as many useful free (as in beer) products.

The only reason that they can get involved with so many different projects is that they are willing to shut down the less popular/profitable ventures. Great software engineers are a scarce resource even for Google. Maybe the team that executed this plan have had a new, better idea that they want to run with. Maybe the result of ordering a couple of guys to maintain this code for X more years would be that the programmers in question quit for a job at Valve or Apple.

Maybe Google need more of the sort of programmers that are happy working on one unexciting project. Send them your CV and tell them that you like code maintenance. It's supposed to be a nice place to work.

Re:Sucks (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#43708467)

Great software engineers are a scarce resource even for Google. Maybe the team that executed this plan have had a new, better idea that they want to run with.

Who gives a fuck what they want? If companies like Google put the interests of their precious snowflakes of employees above their customers, they will die a horrible, deserved death.

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702539)

It was costing Google money to send every text. It was a business idea that scaled incredibly badly. If it had got to the stage where Google were sending millions of messages a day, they would have had to pull the plug and infuriate countless individuals.

It's a loss to the people that used it, sure. But would you invest in a start-up who had SMS Search as their main product? I sure as hell wouldn't, because it didn't make any money and it was never, ever going to. Google aren't a charity.

Re:Sucks (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43702707)

I hate to say this but frankly its true...its Google, what did you or anybody else expect?

Its one of "those" rules, like how you don't buy a MSFT mobile product before the press has officially declared it a hit as MSFT pulls the plug quickly, in the same vein one doesn't use nor should care about any Google service that has less than 10 million users because with Google there really only is two states of a service, runaway hit or dying. There really seems to be no third state with them and it doesn't even matter if they are making enough in ads from a product that it isn't losing money, either its a smash hit and stays that way or its adios.

Its a damned shame and I felt sorry for those in the early days who didn't have this rule but by now it should be obvious that is just how things work at Google.

Re:Sucks (2)

uncqual (836337) | about a year ago | (#43703213)

Agreed.

Although, MSFT kept Bob longer than I expected - they should have killed it in utero.

Google's strategy makes sense if they really just want to be a advertising/search firm -- which may be enough to sustain them for many decades. However, every time they cancel a product that people were using and getting value from for years makes it more likely that people won't bother to try their new products and certainly won't let themselves become dependent on them. Although I liked a lot of stuff Google came out with over the years, now I tend not to bother to invest my energy in discovering or using them as I don't expect them to be around in two years.

I do use gmail, but only as a backup. I never was comfortable using it as my primary email address since it was perpetually in beta for so many years. Knowing what I know now, I probably would never have bothered to use gmail. I also use Android as it's fairly clear that when (not if) Google abandons that, there will be other entities that will pick up the slack.

Google is building up a reputation here. Maybe someday they will actually get a marketing department that understands that the latest thing from "Fart Around Fridays" shouldn't always be "released" unless they have good reason to believe that it's sustainably profitable by some metric and they are willing to sustain it even if they are wrong in their projections. Should they choose to do so someday, it will be hard for them to become "adults" given their reputation over many years.

Google's search capabilities are not all that much better than Bing's right now IMHO (both have strengths and weaknesses relative to the other). I think Google is a bit more vulnerable than most people seem to think - as any "one hit wonder" company is (yes, I'm talking about you Apple also -- although they are a 2½ hit company - iPod + iPhone + ½ iPad).

Re:Sucks (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#43703293)

Maybe someday they will actually get a marketing department that understands that the latest thing from "Fart Around Fridays" shouldn't always be "released" unless they have good reason to believe that it's sustainably profitable by some metric and they are willing to sustain it even if they are wrong in their projections. Should they choose to do so someday, it will be hard for them to become "adults" given their reputation over many years.

Actually, I think that's what has happened, and it's what's caused Google to acquire the bad reputation you speak of. When Larry Page took over a couple of years back, he immediately started demanding more focus on "world-changing" projects (at Google success is measured more by impact than by dollars; the assumption is that if you have a big enough impact there will be a way to make it profitable), and cutting the long tail of projects that weren't getting enough usage.

In your terms, Google is becoming an "adult" company, which is why they've been gradually canceling all of the non-hits which were introduced during the "throw anything and see what sticks" era -- like SMS search, assuming it's actually been cancelled. Google still does (and I hope will continue to do) more ambitious, speculative stuff than any other company out there, but there is definitely much more focus on demonstrating first that a project is going to be successful (i.e. hundreds of millions of users) than there used to be.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but these are my own opinions, not official company positions.)

Re:Sucks (3, Insightful)

uncqual (836337) | about a year ago | (#43703891)

Good point.

If Google doesn't continue to create new public projects with a high subsequent cancellation rate, they probably can overcome the reputation. Speculative stuff is good, but it would be helpful if Google did a better job of "we are playing with this" (appealing to early adopters and geeks) vs. "we stand behind this" (appealing to the mass market) and carefully label projects as such and thoughtfully transition from "playing" to "stand behind". Just declaring everything "beta" forever wasn't terribly helpful.

The SMS search was not anything I ever used, but abandoning iGoogle (with plenty of notice!) disappoints me - it works, it seems like it should be very low overhead to maintain, and it does everything I need. I would think that Google could do a lot with knowing what I click on, what I have on my page, even when I click on stuff and monetize that, but I guess that wasn't in the cards.

Re:Sucks (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43704587)

But they could easily do this without being assholes about it, which i would argue they have been with regard to previous cancellations. Instead of merely pulling the plug they should say "Well this doesn't really fit where we are going, but here is the code so if somebody wants to set up their own back end and keep this going that is fine by us, we'll give you 90 days before pulling the plug to get something set up".

If they would do that then not only would pulling a plug not hurt them, it would give people MORE confidence and willingness to try their new services as they would know "Well if i start to depend on this and they pull the plug at least they will let somebody else take over so as long as there is a dev willing to support this i won't end up losing anything". Instead as the other poster pointed out they are getting the rep i alluded to, where you should avoid anything made by Google unless/until it has become a proven megahit because there is a good chance it'll get the rug pulled out from under it.

And I really get pissed by some of these posts that boil down to "Its free you can't complain" oh really? so if i give you a free shit sandwich you should just eat it and not complain? just because the software costs nothing does NOT mean that the time or effort i invested in using it is likewise worthless, nor is their reputation which is damaged with users every time they kill something that had those users depending on it.

Re:Sucks (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#43706031)

You're assuming that Google did just pull the plug without notice. That's so unlike Google that I'm skeptical that it's what happened.

Re:Sucks (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43707529)

Uhhh...where did i say they pulled it without notice? if they didn't share the backend code (which they didn't) then notice does exactly fuck all except let you know to again not use anything by Google that isn't already a megahit.

I know talking to friends they are doing the same, after buzz,wave, and reader they are avoiding anything Google that isn't a megahit like Gmail. This of course ends up with Google having the MSFT problem where nobody wants their mobile products until they see if they are gonna last, and they won't last because everyone is waiting rather than buying.

For Google to keep raking in the big bux they need as many eyeballs as possible, search alone will NOT cut it, but they are getting a bad enough rep that its gonna get harder and harder to get users to jump on and try their new services because they'll think "What if they pull the plug like (insert previous product they were burnt on)" and again notice doesn't help if there isn't an equal alternative ready to go, just look at how pissed the Reader users were because everybody else's software just didn't have the features reader did.

Re:Sucks (1)

MyHair (589485) | about a year ago | (#43705731)

with Google there really only is two states of a service, runaway hit or dying.

You forgot the third: Google+

I suspect at least some of the dying services will somehow resurface as a new G+ feature.

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702181)

I have never used this and dont know which features it supported, but it should be relatively easy to create a similar service by hooking a dumb phone to a home server?

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702301)

But an (very short) explanation is here

That's not an "explanation". That's a "we decided to discontinue the service, tough noogies. Don't like it? Make your own or demand double your money back"

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702367)

You might want to evaluate options. Data plans tend to be cheapish these days.

Over $300 per year (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43702671)

Data plans tend to be cheapish these days.

Including international data roaming? And even for someone who stays in the same country all the time, there's a huge gap between $7/mo for dumbphone service on Virgin Mobile and $35/mo for smartphone service on the same carrier. How do you call $336 per year "cheapish"?

Re:Over $300 per year (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43703955)

Data plans tend to be cheapish these days.

Including international data roaming? And even for someone who stays in the same country all the time, there's a huge gap between $7/mo for dumbphone service on Virgin Mobile and $35/mo for smartphone service on the same carrier. How do you call $336 per year "cheapish"?

it's international part that will kill your dream(3g roaming is horribly expensive per megabyte). but anyhow, over here you can get 256kbyte/s unlimited service with any 3-4 euro /month plan (2mbit like 8-9euro/month).

though, it's probable that some operator they were pushing their sms's through told 'em that they wouldn't do it for free anymore.

Re:Over $300 per year (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year ago | (#43706769)

That'd be my take. It's not free- it's just that the users didn't have to pay for it's use. If they're not going to make money off of it (If they were actually "monetizing" this as some have claimed...they'd not have pulled the plug, folks...) then it doesn't make sense to keep it going. They are, after all, a business.

Re:Over $300 per year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43706757)

1) If you're pissing, moaning, and groaning about $28/mo such that it's REALLY that sort of a problem, you've got more problems than having SMS search will fix.
2) International data roaming? Unless you're actually travelling that way, you're grubbing for things.
3) If you are travelling such that 2's an "issue"- you're well off enough to not worry about international data roaming.

Seriously. All the people with their panties in a wad over this...you're not entitled, and you got exactly what you paid for it so GET OVER YOURSELVES.

Re:Sucks (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43703963)

Sucks since I don't have a data plan... But an (very short) explanation is here http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/websearch/yKG7BGro7QQ/ntAXQWWKj70J [google.com]

How does "Closing products always involves tough choices, but we do think very hard about each decision and its implications for our users. Streamlining our services enables us to focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve people’s lives" qualify as an explanation?

That's just a employee shilling the company line.

Syria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702135)

They're allocating their SMS resources to the Syrian SMS-to-Twitter project for now.

no.. hackers did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702137)

Your Welcome.

-Anonymous ;)

Re:no.. hackers did it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702189)

*You're* welcome.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702139)

If they had, they would have removed the page and link

Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43702163)

Why is it that folks still have issues when a "Free" service suddenly is removed? I realize that folks used this service since they didn't have a mobile data plan, but really how is it that Google was making money with this? I mean they couldn't really target you for ads could they?

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Free but no free lunch. [hgjones.org]

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (3, Insightful)

udoschuermann (158146) | about a year ago | (#43702233)

There are two issues from the user's perspective when a free service is suddenly shutdown:

1. The free service has become an expectation and important part of their routine.
2. There is no way to plan for alternatives, if they even exist,

No, there is no legal obligation for Google to keep such a service running, but the least they could have done is give a few weeks or months of warning, maybe point out equivalent services (sms based), and thus offer people a way to migrate. Instead, they just dropped everyone on the floor and said, "Go sign up for a data plan <shrug>"

grow up, you entitled shit (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702295)

The LEAST they could have done was what they did: they simply stopped giving out a free item to you freeloading looters. Only in spoiled and entitled America do people think that those who give charity somehow owe them yet even more. Atlas Shrugged is becoming more true every day.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (3, Informative)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about a year ago | (#43702383)

You are forgetting estoppel:

Estoppel in its broadest sense is a legal term referring to a series of legal and equitable doctrines that preclude "a person from denying or asserting anything to the contrary of that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial or legislative officers, or by his own deed, acts, or representations, either express or implied." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel] (emphasis mine).

A common example is a stream on private property that borders a road. If people have come to take water from the stream, even if the landowner povided a pipe on his own land to make it easy (that did not extend to the public property), then after some time, the landowner can not suddenly deny access to the water in that stream, whether by his pipe, or not. If he tried, a court would likely grant a public "easement by estoppel".

The same principle is used in divorce cases to ensure that a soon to be ex-wife received alimony so that she may live "in the manner to which she has become accustomed", even as alimony is granted less and less frequently in recognition of women's ability to independently earn income. (It is still granted in many cases when a wife has never worked, and her husband supported her: she often gets 50% of the community property (to which she contributed nothing financially) AND alimony.)

So, if a company provides a free service, that many have come to rely upon, for some significant time, it may very well be held to continue to provide that service, unless the nature of the free offering was made clear (e.g. reserving the right to discontinue it at any time).

Generally, estoppel applies to either real property easements, or income streams, or other tangible benefit, but I see no reason that it can not be applied to a service.

In this case, the court would weigh the time the service was offered, the reasonable expectations of the public regarding it, and the public harm if it were terminated against the costs of the company to continue to provide it for free.

Be warned, however, that public easements by estoppel, for even an essential thing like water, often only are granted if free access was provided for extended periods of time, say 25 or 50 years. Often this is codified in municipal bylaws, or state, or federal laws.

This is why one should ALWAYS be careful of "being nice": one may unwittingly create an obligation by estoppel to continue to do so.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (2)

uncqual (836337) | about a year ago | (#43703245)

she often gets 50% of the community property (to which she contributed nothing financially)

Umm.... maybe she raised the kids and took care of the house so her partner could focus on working and, had she not done that, her partner would have been unable to make as much money for the household? If she just sat around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas in a moo-moo, the partner was either okay with that or not smart enough to divorce her before "50% of community property" amounted to much.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43703987)

she often gets 50% of the community property (to which she contributed nothing financially)

Umm.... maybe she raised the kids and took care of the house so her partner could focus on working and, had she not done that, her partner would have been unable to make as much money for the household? If she just sat around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas in a moo-moo, the partner was either okay with that or not smart enough to divorce her before "50% of community property" amounted to much.

...you do understand what financially means? in the scenario she contributed effort, not money.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (1)

uncqual (836337) | about a year ago | (#43704403)

yes, of course i understand what "financially" means. the partner's efforts meant the family didn't have to buy the labor on the open market and buying that labor would have cost money. hence, the partner may well have contributed financially in a fairly direct way. by your definition, the "bread winner" also didn't contribute financially if they worked at a salaried/hourly job -- some business (the "bread winner's" employer) did contribute to the family financially, but all the "bread winner" contributed was effort.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43706277)

Generally speaking, estoppel may only be used as a "shield" and not as a "sword". You are suggesting here that estoppel be used in order to force google to continue to provide a service, that is, as a sword. This is different that the typical situations in which estoppel is available where someone promises not to do something, though they have the legal right to do so and then go against this promise. It is highly unlikely that estoppel would be available in this context.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43707661)

This gets a +5 on slashdot? No, in this case, the court would have curt words for the attorney who suggested estoppel is applicable to Google SMS.

Your understanding estoppel is particularly obtuse.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43702783)

This is the same country that had a company give out a bonus turkey to people at Christmas. One year when times were tough they didn't, so employees sued claiming it wasn't a bonus but part of compensation they expected...and won at the Supreme Court.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (1)

Georules (655379) | about a year ago | (#43702941)

They don't owe anything to their users using free services, of course. But, it would be polite to at least provide the information saying they've shut it down rather than it disappearing with no notice. It would have been nice to provide advance notice. Required? No. More likely to leave people still feeling OK about enjoying other Google products? Yes.

Re:grow up, you entitled shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43704037)

The LEAST they could have done was what they did: they simply stopped giving out a free item to you freeloading looters. Only in spoiled and entitled America do people think that those who give charity somehow owe them yet even more. Atlas Shrugged is becoming more true every day.

I was skeptical at first, but the bold face convinced me. Please do not "go galt" and deprive us of your WISDOM.

Too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43705061)

You lit the fuse with your pathetic plea. I will only come back after you looters have cannibalisticly devoured yourselves.

But only then.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702341)

True; go sign up for a data plan. Your phone can't become a full fledged tricorder without a data plan anyway.

What service should I cut? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43702693)

What service should I cut to make room in my budget for the $336 per year difference between Virgin Mobile's cheapest plan without data and its cheapest plan with data?

Re:What service should I cut? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43703037)

your data plan

why is it so important anyway, not like the SMS service was any good

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (5, Informative)

Dputiger (561114) | about a year ago | (#43702253)

"Why is it that folks still have issues when a "Free" service suddenly is removed?"

Because having a service yanked out from under you is annoying? Furthermore, your use of the word "free" is somewhat limited. Google makes money off of users. It monetizes your search traffic, your emails, and tracks your site visitation patterns. It monitors which ads you click on, which you don't, and how to best use that data to better sell more ads. It leverages its share of the search and web services market in a number of ways to support these endeavors.

When you become part of the Google ecosystem, you are agreeing to share data with them that is incontrovertibly *valuable*, even if they never put a value on it, and no money changes hands. So you're right. No such thing as a free lunch. But when I use Google services, I'm paying them with my own personal usage data -- and they're obviously quite happy to use that data in a great many ways to "enhance" product offerings.

I'm not arguing that Google SMS deserved to live, or that Google is morally or legally in the wrong for closing it, but Google is compensated with information when I use its products. It may not cost me any money, but if I give you something you find valuable in exchange for a good or service, there's still an exchange taking place.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about a year ago | (#43702327)

They didn't have a monthly/yearly contract with you to buy your information. They decided to discontinue buying you. Tough.

Maybe you should try an arrangement with another company where you are the actual customer, rather than their product.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702333)

Yes. *cough* Twitter *cough*

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43702345)

* your use of the word "free" is somewhat limited. Google makes money off of users *

You've almost figured it out. But you are google's product. or, to put it in ranching terms, you are the cattle. a rancher has no obligation to the cattle even though the rancher makes money off of it. at one year they decide which animals will be culled and the unlucky beast gets a bullet to the brain. this is what google is doing to the users of certain services.

so the exchange of which you speak still obligates google for nothing.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43702687)

one year they decide which animals will be culled and the unlucky beast gets a bullet to the brain. this is what google is doing to the users of certain services.

No it isn't. Those cattle get sold for their meat and make a profit for the rancher. These users are no longer sources of profit for google. They aren't being culled, they are being starved to death - a death that doesn't help anyone, neither the rancher nor the cattle benefit.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702381)

Please explain how they monteized this service...

Quite simply, people are bitching because their free service (which, I might add, if you're using SMS in this day and age you're being stupid...data plans cost $10-20 over the base plans for month to month type services, and for most people's usage on the contract plans it's about the same...) and little else.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702591)

(which, I might add, if you're using SMS in this day and age you're being stupid...

... or maybe I only need a f*'ing phone, not a handheld computer with a camera, GPS, 4" screen and a crapload of other stuff I don't need or want.

data plans cost $10-20 over the base plans for month to month type services, and for most people's usage on the contract plans it's about the same...)

The data plan may cost $10-20, but where can I get a "smart"-phone for (near) free?

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#43702667)

Clearly you need more than a "fucking phone" if you want to use Google Search on it.

How to free up that much in my budget (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43702721)

data plans cost $10-20 over the base plans for month to month type services

Virgin Mobile quoted me $28 per month for its cheapest voice and data plan per smartphones ($35 per month) compared to its cheapest pay-per-minute voice-only plan for dumbphones ($20 per 90 days). What should I stop buying in order to free up an extra $28 per month in my budget?

Re:How to free up that much in my budget (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702997)

What should I stop buying in order to free up an extra $28 per month in my budget?

I'm going to go with Heroin.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43702637)

Yes, it is annoying. So google should not annoy you? Are you some kind of special being? Do we have an obligation not to annoy Your Snootiness?

Even if it is true that google is making money off you, you should realize they will stop giving you service if and when they decide you are not making enough money.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#43703117)

Are you asserting that people shouldn't complain when they are annoyed? Because that's what it sounds like.

Sorry, but I believe that complaining when a company annoys you is a public service. It warns others. (Admittedly, it's gotten to the point where I expect Google to drop any free service without warning, but there are always people who need to be reminded.)

That said, Google also has a perfect right to drop any service that they aren't contractually obligated to maintain. But this doesn't imply that those they annoy when they do so shouldn't voice their complaints.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1)

Patman64 (1622643) | about a year ago | (#43706409)

Are you asserting that people shouldn't complain when they are annoyed? Because that's what it sounds like.

People shouldn't complain when they are annoyed by Google, because everything Google does is Awesome (TM). In fact, I'm glad they dropped this service out-of-the-blue, because now we know who the unbelievers are.

If Apple (or, less so, Microsoft) does something that annoys you, then you are allowed to whine on Slashdot.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43708437)

I recall a short story by Asimov. Basically another alien race sets up a colony in Jupiter (which Earth has left unoccupied) claiming the treaty allowing a planet to have dominion over a "system" does not include all the planets of the "star system". (Very similar to the arguments between USA and USSR during the Cuban missile crisis). Eventually the clever astro lawyer resolve the issue by recursing one more level. If the alien's argument is valid, there is nothing to stop Earth to set up a base in any uninhabited moons of Jupiter. The most remarkable thing about that short story was the usage of the word normal. Some space capsule gets lost, and was there is a mad scramble to locate it between the humans and aliens. The key to capturing it lay in understanding the word "normal" had a mathematical meaning (not tangential) as well as a common meaning

If you claim the right to be annoyed by Google and find some justification to be vocal about it that it warns others, well, recurse one more level. It gives me the same right to by annoyed by your expressions of annoyance and point out to the same general public that your annoyance is unreasonable.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702303)

They seem to have a fetish for ruining perfectly good low-maintenance/cost services, then shutting them down. (see: Google Reader)

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702471)

Because it is not everybody's view that the sole motivator for human action is money. It is a strange world view that prompts an ape to believe that numbers on a computer are the sole goal. I can invest my money into a business with a lower ROI because I believe what they are doing is making the world a better place. Any ape that even wants more than $10 million is a very confused and dimwitted ape.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702675)

Because it means their service is unreliable as it could be cut off any day. In this case it would be better to pay for an alternative than use an ad-supported one.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43702717)

Why is it that folks still have issues when a "Free" service suddenly is removed?

Google today announced the end of its 'Google Docs' experiment. Chairman Eric Schmidt said "Hosting documents for free didn't generate revenue. We started that product line for tactical reasons. Microsoft tried to move into our search business with Bing, and we had to respond to that threat. Today, the only people using Bing are Internet Explorer users who don't know how to change the default search engine, Bing is no longer a threat to us. So we're exiting the "documents" business to focus on our primary business of search ads". In response to this announcement, Google (GOOG) stock jumped 6%.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702763)

Rain is a free service. Farmers have issues when it doesn't appear. If that doesn't make sense to you, I don't know what to tell you.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702855)

Why is it that folks still have issues when a "Free" service suddenly is removed?

With Google now there is starting to become a worrying pattern where they use their dominant search position and money press to launch free services that push competitors out of the market, and then start charge for it or close it down when the competitors are dead. As they did with Maps. This I have a bigger problem with than just the user annoyance caused by the disappearance of a free service.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | about a year ago | (#43705049)

Huh? Google Maps still exists

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43705363)

They cut down free API access a year or two ago. There was quite a few complaints and intent to make it a big predatory pricing antitrust issue - several smaller mapping services went out of business unable to compete with big and free gmaps, and now Google began demanding money.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1, Troll)

LihTox (754597) | about a year ago | (#43703585)

ALICE: "Hey Bob, will you come hold this ladder for me while I climb up on the roof, make sure it doesn't fall over."
BOB: "OK"
Bob holds the ladder, Alice climbs up on the roof. Bob gets bored and leaves, and the ladder falls over.
ALICE (on cellphone to Bob): "Hey you jerk! You left me up here on the roof! Why didn't you stay?"
BOB: "It's not like you were paying me or anything. You should be grateful that I stayed for as long as I did."

Now, how should Alice react? There probably isn't any sort of legal remedy she can take against him (just as there's no legal remedy that people have against Google for taking away their free services). But you can bet she's angry, and she's going to think twice about turning to Bob again, and she's going to warn all her friends that Bob is not to be trusted.

That's the "issue", and that's what's going on here. All free services have the potential to become an important part of somebody's life, so that taking them away can leave them up on the roof without a ladder.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43703651)

Because every free service must be kept forever, however time and money sinking and unpopular it is!

If I gave you a backrub once, I'm now your personal masseur for all eternity, and if a bakery used to put out yesterday's bread for homeless to take and now stopped doing this, they should expect a pile of shit on their porch tomorrow.

PS: And no, your life didn't depend on Google SMS, neither did you (or anyone) ask to build that service for them.

Re:Killed because it wasn't a revenue generator (1)

LihTox (754597) | about a year ago | (#43706527)

Meh, you're exaggerating my analogy; Alice was able to call a friend on her phone and she got down from the roof just fine. And Bob could have said "No sorry, I can't hold the ladder for you," or he could have said, "I'm so sorry, but I forgot I left my oven on," or he could have shouted up the ladder, "Hey Alice, sorry but I really have to go!"

But I won't try to convince you further unless you want me to.

Love it! (1, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43702297)

I get downmodded every time I bring this up [slashdot.org]...

Re:Love it! (4, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43702323)

also one will get downmodded for pointing out that google can legitimately yank its free services any time it pleases, there is no moral obligation for it to provide any thing for free or to notify anyone when such free services are cut off.

thankfully, with its biggest service, the normal search engine, the free users won't get dumped because they are not the customer but the product and as such are worth money

Re:Love it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43705063)

and the people in a democracy can vote for regulation that doesn't allow google to have the market share it has and to require it to maintain certain products the people fine useful. there is no moral obligation to allow laissez-faire capitalism. on the way to doing that, the people can go to slashdot and complain about google and ignore all the libertarianism as so much claptrap, there is no moral obligation to allow or listen to libertarianism.

Re:Love it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702467)

Probably something to do with the fact that businesses pay for Google Apps.

Holding grudges... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702477)

... is bad for you.

Only a fool trusts Google (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702355)

Google is best avoided for anything mission-critical, period.

Of course smart people already knew that.

The Google Plan... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702391)

1. Offer service for FREE!
2. Wait for competition to die.
3. Cancel service to conentrate on killing other competitors and 'to focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve peopleâ(TM)s [Larry's] lives'
4. Profit!

Re:The Google Plan... (3, Informative)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#43703151)

What competition was there for this service? I'd never heard of it, or anything like it, before. (I don't use SMS, so that's no be surprise.)

I think that when you get to step 2 you are talking about the wrong company. Google often, perhaps usually, doesn't have any competition for their minor projects. Sometimes the competition develops AFTER they show up. If there was prior competition for Picassa, for example, I never heard of it.

Re:The Google Plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43704395)

Picasa wasn't Google's product to begin with, they acquired it from a company called Lifescape in 2004. Picasa first came out in 2002. ACDsee goes back to 1993.

Free incoming texts in those countries. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43702909)

In India, China, Europe etc all the incoming calls/tests are fee. The caller pays for them. Looks like Google was providing a toll-free-800-number like service where the outgoing search queries were also free and the search results came back as free texts. Explains why I have not used this service much in usa.

USA Follows Saudi Arabia Example (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43702993)

Departments of State, Homeland Security and the Executive Office Of The President have ordered SMS shutdown within USA boarders.

The action follows closely on the progress of the Senate Benghazi hearings and Inspector General investigations. The action is to prevent current and future SMS usage and to secure servers with SMS archives pertaining to White House, State and Homelands Security inter-department communications for possible Congressional and Department of Justice Subpoenas and Issuance of Criminal Complaint against Department of State Officials.

Re:USA Follows Saudi Arabia Example (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43703049)

SMS still works fine retard, sending an SMS message to goolge does not, which is googles choice

god damn the trolls here just get fucking stupider every day

Shurely a case for nothingofvaluewaslost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43703997)

Or is SMS search so dull even the story writers aren't interested in the joke?

Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43706441)

I'm not a happy !! I used the sms to find address ,numbers, etc.. This is the worse mistake Google could have made.

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