Partially in response/addition to what +Elizabeth Hahn
said, here is a bit of my own criticism about "the Google way" of changing products and rolling them out.
And I can't help it - it's always the same. "They" say "we're listening" and they build, erm, hem-hem, things
that existing users just don't care about very much (if there was one
significant update to Google+ for me ever since it launched, it was the addition of Collections - just took them 3+ years...). What were you listening to?
Something seems to be severely
broken with Google's "listening" mechanisms, or the metrics and UI a/b stuff, or whatever they are
listening to. It's not the existing users, that much is sure.
I've been watching things like these unfolding way
too long. "Back in the days" I was a Top Contributor in the Help Forums for Picasa and Picasa Web Albums, for several years. If there was one constant throughout these years, it was that Google was almost stubbornly ignoring feature requests (I'm talking about the same thing being requested repeatedly for years
) - and instead adding features that no one asked for.
Whatever new feature is rolled out always feels more or less like "the holy engineers from their ivory towers" impose something upon their users that they came up with in a soundproof chamber isolated from the world, while actual
feature requests get blissfully ignored - or it's "meh" features and mere cosmetic changes ("oh, that thing there is now round instead of square, woohoo! improvement number 1274!" - really?).
As a user, I rarely
had and have the feeling that Google products and services ever
evolve in a direction that I find interesting and beneficial - on the contrary: most things are getting dumbed down and simplified (or shut down entirely) because the target audience always seems to be "mass-market Joe User," but never
the advanced, tech-savvy people.
As a consequence, I for one pulled out of most of Google's services. What's left is Google+ and Maps for me.
Now, I understand the difficulty of trying to balance things, attracting new users (and keeping them engaged) while at the same time holding on to the existing user base, but good grief! If these things always piss the existing users off and "the team" is getting flak, it should
be an indicator that something is very
much out of balance with the existing
user base, no?