I’m saddened to read that Google is discontinuing development of Google Notebook, something I’ve used extensively since it was launched. It seems that this is part of a general rationalisation exercise being conducted as part of the need to cut costs. Other Google services and applications being culled include Google Catalogs, Dodgeball (a mobile social network aquired by Google) and Mapshup Editor. Jaiku, the micro-blogging service acquired by Google will migrate to the Google App Engine and will no longer be actively developed.I guess that none of this should come as any surprise since in these austere times most organisations are looking closely at the business models (or lack of them) which underpin their products and services. However, even loss-making services can serve a purpose if they are drawing users into other more profitable areas of an organisation’s business. I remember when I worked for Reuters that News was a loss making service but was packaged in such a way that revenue could be generated from the products it was packaged with, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. I can only hope that Google has thought this through and has assessed the impact that withdrawing these services will have on bringing users into the more profitable parts of their business, and their general desire to build interconnected social networks.There is a lesson here for all of us who use freely available products and applications to support their digital lifestyle. For me, transferring all of my accumulated notebook content and tags to an alternative service will be a necessary and unwelcome activity over the coming weeks/months. It leads me to question whether I should have relied as much as I have done on Google’s applications to organise my various digital assets. Perhaps it is better to be in control of your own web server to organise and manage bookmarks, tags, and other digital resources. At least that way all I would have to worry about is keeping it all backed up. I’ll be doing some serious thinking about this in the near future, I suggest you do too!
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