Google recently chose to exit its video sale and rental business, leaving paid customers with nothing. Now, in yet another confidence-battering move, Google has pulled some of the so-called phone numbers for life offered by its Grand Central team, with almost no warning to customers.
I view this as a serious problem. When a company the size of Google sets itself up as quasi-utility (aka, the phone company), does it not take on the burden of a larger responsibility?
Enterprise 2.0 tools, including Grand Central, are relatively easy to build in comparison with traditional, big infrastructure systems; that's one reason these smaller systems tend to be inexpensive. Unfortunately, reliability issues have become part of the Enterprise 2.0 experience, for both technical and business model reasons.
On the one hand, I accept the technical problems, although certainly not with a smile. After all, software systems do break, despite the best of intentions.
However, I do have a serious concern with business models that ignore fundamental responsibilities to the consumer. When Google, or any other company for that matter, offers consumers a "phone number for life," they darn well better mean it.
This failure of that commitment to the consumer is just wrong. All of which leaves me asking, what does Google's "do no evil" slogan actually mean?
[via John Battelle]