A Google Software Miss 5 years ago would be hard to ponder with its world-leading search engine, pioneering work in website analytics and performance tuning plus advances in mobile and cloud integration. But of late the fallibility notion might be regarded as more plausible as Google plays catchup in AI, switches to major investments in “me too” hardware and takes a more belligerent stand against government regulation and unionization. All this occurring while transitioning away from software to more hardware.
This transition to hardware has left gaps in delivering to its software customers. These disruptions have been seen as restructuring and outright divestment in numerous Google tools and ventures. This review will examine just such a divestment as experienced firsthand. But first let us put the situation in context.
Alphabet/Google had in 2022 revenue of $282B with $76B deriving most of its earnings from Advertising revenues from its Search Engine, YouTube and Workspace businesses. But Google is still searching for a another Magic Lantern of earning and has roamed wide in its search.
- Pixel 8: Google launched the Pixel 8 with new AI image edit and text generation features;
- Pixel Fold: Google is rumored to be launching the Pixel Fold, a foldable device, in September 2023;
- Pixel Tablet: Google launched the Pixel Tablet, a dockable tablet,with advanced Chrome powers;
- Android 14: Google is launched Android 14 in October 2023 ;
- Improved Pixel Watch: There are hopes that Google will launch an improved Pixel Watch in Fall of 2023 with new AI features;
- Mixed reality platform: Google is developing a mixed reality platform in partnership with Samsung and Qualcomm;
- New Pixel Buds A-Series: Google is rumored to be launching a new Pixel Buds A-Series in Summer 2023;
- Nest speaker: Google’s next flagship Nest speaker could launch in either fall 2023 or spring 2024
- Tensor-powered ChromeOS device: There have been rumors about a Tensor-powered ChromeOS which may be a part of the Tablet launch;
Seven of the nine new Google product investments are clearly hardware oriented with 5 lining up directly against Apple products. The New Mixed Reality Platform could put Google in a direct skirmish with Apple and Meta/Facebook. But perhaps the most important trend at Google is the Constant state of project flux.
You.com and KilledbyGoogle.com show a history of large project flux at Google. Check the KilledbyGoogle link and you will see dozens of projects killed or disrupted or even stopped and then restarted in the past 10 years. And the preponderance of these Google expirations has been in apps or software frameworks/libraries.
Google documentation is either sparse and what Cupertino considers to be important or is scattered and overwhelming. YouTube docs are split into 5 to 6 overlapping and mutually referencing rabbit holes:YouTube General Help, YouTube Demo API, YouTube Player Demo, Data API Explorer, YouTube Developer Documentation being the main entry points. s an erstwhile Google Domains user I can testify to the elaborate and circular pathway buried in Google docs.
Now the reason I bring up this history of Google software turnover and transience is because on May 2023 a web project for a client is about to fall victim to Google transience. The client wants a WordPress website developed on Runcloud Hosting and using Name Cheap as domain registrar to be migrated to Google Cloud Hosting and Google Domains. Being familiar with Google Clouds my assumption is that Google Domains will be solid.
Unfortunately, this is dead wrong.
I was about to run up against all three of recent Google trends. First, Alphabet/Google has been making substantial layoffs -12,000 in January 2023 and support cutbacks in 2022[see layoffs.fyi]. So live, online support is very thin. As a result, serious setup problems using Google Domains found no online help and had me racing around the Google Domains help rabbit holes helplessly. Second, Google’s commitment is now centered on hardware with software taking a serious hit in customer commitment and support. Third, knowledge of the continuing record of Google abruptly phasing out major software systems [see KilledbyGoogle.com ]should have been a signal to do a vetting of both Google Clouds and Google Domains.
However, such a vetting would not have revealed the key fact that on September 2023 Google Domains would be sold to SquareSpace. There is no word on Google Domains that it would be sold to SquareSpace. That would be revealed by KilledbyGoogle.com a week after the attempted migration of DashboardWP.ca from NameCheap. In fact, if you go to Google Domains site as of the date of this post there is still no acknowledgment that Google Domains is in the process of being sold.
The following section describes how a simple domain migration went wrong. The migration was carefully planned – transfer the domain to Google Domains as a first step. Then move the website from Runcloud to Google Cloud. But that is not the way things worked out.
Rather, after collecting their transfer fee Google Domains failed to complete the transfer. For 7 days I attempted to get assistance from Google Domains help system and its online support staff to no avail. After 9 days with no.resolution of the simple domain transfer the client abandoned the project altogether. “Thank you very much” Google Domains support staff. Here are the details
To be honest, there was little expectation that Google Domains could fumble a simple domain transfer from NameCheap to Google. The Google miscue and complete lack of support in effect scuttled a promising development project. Lets look at the evidence.
DashBoardWP.ca is the domain to be transferred from NameCheap.to Google Domains. Just before the domain was transferred we did a check to see that it was running properly on RunCloud hosting- The WordPress site was running and here is the transfer information.
So in transfering this domain to Google Domains I filled in the correct host link and the name server info:
When the Google Domains preview was first used there was no surprise the website did not load. But I attributed the problem to internet propagation time….
However, what Google Domains delivered was a non-functional domain, despite the correct settings, which continually refused to load. Now what follows is 10 days of getting no help from Google Domains support staff who a)did not attempt to rectify their faulty transfer but b) blamed the hosting and/or Namecheap for the problem. And this after many calls/emails attempting to get help, But most frustrating was navigating the Google Domains “help” ten days of derelict support. The following section attempts to answer the questiowhy would Google Domains support staff do this?
After getting the following error message for 6 days:
This was not a domain name propogation problem – something had gone wrong with the domain transfer from a working site to Google Domains. The WordPress site remained at Runcloud awaiting a successful domain transfer.
But the Google Domains help system offered no insight into what had gone wrong. Likewise, emails to Google Domains support staff were first ignored. And the client whose system was stalled by a simple domain transferer put a two day limit on getting the problem solved. Finally , a call to Google Domains support staff looked promising.
So I produced a detailed description of the domain name problem – it is 5 pages long and can viewed on this PDF file.
A next-day email from RunCloud Support confirmed what NameCheap online support were saying:
That this domain name transfer with settings provided to Google Domains should have gone through. The ball was back in Google Domains unresponsive court. And the client confirmed that, terminating the project.
So What Was Learned
First, as a company with $282B in sales and $76B in profits, Google has shifted away from software support of the Web Development community. Yes, if you are a large shop paying large advertising fees or user operational rates, Google will likely supply support – but even here the online version can be torturous. Check with Google Truth-sayers like MotleyFool, KilledbyGoogle.com, and The Verge Finally, if you are a Small Business Web Developer, do not assume that Google will be on your side.