My brother lives in Provo, Utah, one of the few cities in the country fortunate enough to have Google Fiber service. And they are truly fortunate; he describes it as awesome and amazing, the kind of Internet service everyone should have. But the thing is… it’s from Google.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Google. But I’m starting to wonder how much I can trust them as, once again, they’ve demonstrated their shifting attitude towards engineering by announcing the shutdown of a highly useful service, Google Code.
I’ve had some time to think about it since it was announced, but the more I think, the less I like it. To begin with, their stated reason for shutting down doesn’t even pass the laugh test. I mean… they claim that Github provides a better code hosting site? Seriously?!?
Let’s see. First off… it’s a Git hub, and that’s bad enough in and of itself. But even if for some strange reason you actually enjoy that model, Github is a terrible implementation of it. Viewing the commit history of a project or a file–a trivial task on both Google Code and Bitbucket–doesn’t appear to even exist anywhere in the Github interface! (Yes, I know there is a way to do it, but it’s not the least bit discoverable.) Navigating to the front page of the project takes you to the root of the repository hierarchy, instead of something reasonable such as, oh, I dunno, a front page for the project maybe? They claim to have SVN support, but it crashes and burns whenever you try to do trivial things like add an ignore from TortoiseSVN or switch from one branch to another. And so on. Google saying GitHub is “a better system” is a bad joke, from the perspective of someone who’s used both.
No, this really does feel like they got bored with the project and now they’re abandoning it, and if some of the users end up getting screwed over, oh well. And it’s not the first time they’ve done this. So why should we think it will be the last? That kinda worries me, because a project like Google Fiber, when they get tired of it, wouldn’t just be abandoned; it’s got a ton of infrastructure and would definitely be sold off to someone. And if a company like Comcast, AT&T or Verizon were to get their hands on it, that would be bad for Internet users everywhere, and almost a tragedy for my brother!
What do you think? Does Google’s long-established habit of abandoning projects foreshadow bad times ahead for Google Fiber customers?