Dan Farber wrote about some downtime he experienced at YouTube this morning -- it lasted 20 minutes, and was then restored. The part that got me thinking about his post was his reference to why the internet isn't like TV -- TV is much more reliable, but content on the internet is usually more interesting.
This provides another example of why the Internet isn't like television, which tends to have higher uptime but the content just isn't as interesting as what you can find on YouTube.
Reliability is extremely important to people. If you don't believe me, imagine someone sending you an important document that needs to be replied to within an hour -- unfortunately, your Gmail says "Oops." instead of showing you your inbox. There is nobody you can talk to, and nothing you can do but wait. You would be surprised how often this happens -- email always goes down at the worst possible time.
The service I think will be the biggest problem for Google is Grand Central. In the last few months, the service has gone down twice. What does that mean? It means anyone that relies on GrandCentral would have stopped receiving phone calls. when was the last time your real phone provider did that? If you thought people were attached to their email, try taking away their phone.
Google really does provide very cool, and extremely useful services though -- and I think that's more important than 100% uptime guarantees. For me, they are good enough. What about you?