As we watch the evolution of Google's product portfolio, we've observed the company's occasionally perplexing tendency to shut down successful, well-liked services, often to the frustration of its user base. The recent decision to offload its Google Domains product to Squarespace is the latest in a series of moves that has left many of us scratching our heads.
To understand the gravity of this decision, it's essential to draw a parallel with a past Google misstep—the discontinuation of Google Reader. Once a beloved tool for avid news readers worldwide, Google Reader's discontinuation left a vacuum that, despite many similar products existing, has been challenging for google to overcome. The decision wasn't just a matter of curtailing a useful service; it reflected a lack of understanding of the product's significance to its user base and the subsequent implications for Google's strategic positioning.
Now, with the sale of the Domains product, Google is once again poised to leave its devoted users in the lurch, and for what benefit? While there might be immediate financial gains or perhaps some form of strategic simplification, the long-term strategic implications seem considerably less favorable. Domain registration isn't a glamorous task, but it's a vital one. As a gateway to digital presence, domains are typically managed by technically proficient individuals—precisely the type of customers who have influence over other key business decisions, such as cloud hosting and productivity suite choices.
On domains.google, Google offered a polished, user-friendly experience, becoming a trusted provider for many businesses and individuals. They innovated on TLD availability, even recently. Through this service, Google managed to attract and maintain a customer base of tech-savvy individuals and businesses, fostering loyalty that extended beyond the domain registrar product to its other offerings, such as Google Cloud and Google Workspace. The uproar we already see on twitter is evidence of the challenge they will face from this decision.
Now, with this strategic asset being divested, the critical question becomes: How will Google fill the gap? Although they still have a DNS and registration product in Google Cloud Platform, it doesn't carry the same mass-market appeal. For many users, the shift feels like a downgrade, causing frustration and disappointment, not unlike the reaction to Google Reader's shuttering. Moreover, the decision to sell to Squarespace—a direct competitor in the online presence market—does not make a ton of sense. One can't help but wonder if Google has effectively handed its rivals a weapon, offering them an opportunity to curry favor with a valuable user base that Google has taken for granted.
We believe that this is a misjudgment of the strategic value of its domains.google product. The company seems to have underestimated the product's role as a gateway to its ecosystem and the stickiness that a well-liked product brings, not to mention the value of goodwill with a technically proficient audience. Only time will truly reveal the strategic implications of Google's decision. However, if history has taught us anything from the Google Reader incident, it's that the loss of this service will have profound ripple effects, both for Google and its user base. While the move might make sense on paper now, it is hard to shake the feeling that Google will come to regret this decision.
At Coherence, we're building a product that stands on the shoulders of giants - we believe the AWS, GCP, and Azure are the best cloud hosting products and will continue to grow in adoption with companies ranging from startups to the enterprise. We focus on helping teams use these complex and powerful products and provide their developers a great experience - even if they don't have the time and resources to build that experience themselves from raw parts. We use and recommend google domains and our POV here is driven by our desire to see them continue to make great decisions in the market.