Google Outages Defy Customer Confidence

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Google keeps telling us its applications are business ready, but again this morning we have learned otherwise, thanks to another Gmail outage. OK, it has been a bad week, but a Google News outage on Tuesday, followed by a Gmail failure today is just too much to bear.

I know all the excuses, from how huge demand makes Google a "victim of its own success" to "what do you expect for free?" Nevertheless, they are just excuses.

Rather than adding features that add only questionable value to our lives, such as Sidewiki and Fast Flip news, maybe Google needs to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on quality and reliability for products many of us use every day?

Today's Gmail outage appears to have been much smaller than the huge outage in February or the smaller outage on Sept. 1. Of course, we only have Google's word for what happens on its network.

Earlier this week, when Google News crashed, the outage appeared to be more widespread than the company acknowledged. My Gnews was stalled for hours well before the outage Google actually admitted to. And there were other Gnews outages back in May.

Maybe Google's paid services, including Gmail, are more reliable than what it offers free. Even if that is true, it is not likely to win Google many friends. Either Gmail is totally reliable, or it isn't.

Google's problems should not be overstated, but the company is beginning to sound like AT&T with its service-related issues. AT&T is a company people love to hate, while Google is a company people love to love. But, a reputation for poor reliability is one of the worst curses a tech company can face.

Google needs to protect its reputation--and the marketability of its cloud services--by improving reliability and being more open with users about the details of even small outages.

Right now, this is only a small crisis of confidence. Google needs to stop it right away.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web page.

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