Home » SaaS » Google as an evil enterprise: the perception changes as vital APIs are shut down

Google as an evil enterprise: the perception changes as vital APIs are shut down

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Suggested reading: If Microsoft Can’t Compete With Google, Who Can? [Aug 2, 2011]

Google is an advertising company and evidence of its ability to extract a monopoly price premium from advertisers is a key siren call to investigators to see if Google is abusing monopoly power and its overall damage to the whole online ecosystem of e-commerce.

Google is going to listen to the the critics. The following has been added to the original blog post:

UPDATE June 3: In the days since we announced the deprecation of the Translate API, we’ve seen the passion and interest expressed by so many of you, through comments here (believe me, we read every one of them) and elsewhere. I’m happy to share that we’re working hard to address your concerns, and will be releasing an updated plan to offer a paid version of the Translate API. Please stay tuned; we’ll post a full update as soon as possible.

Spring cleaning for some of our APIs  [By Adam Feldman, APIs Product Manager, May 26, 2011]

As the web evolves and priorities change, we sometimes deprecate APIs – that is, remove them from active development – to free up resources and concentrate on moving forward. Today we’re announcing a spring cleaning for some of our APIs.

Note that the vast majority of Google APIs are not affected by this announcement.

Following the standard deprecation period – often, as long as three years – some of the deprecated APIs will be shut down. The rest have no scheduled date for shutdown, but won’t get any new features. The policy for each deprecated API is specified in its documentation.

5/27/2011 5:24 PM    Adam Feldman said…

This was a tough decision for us to make; we’re sorry to hear that it’s been a tough one for you to read. Thank you all for your comments, and for reminding us of the passion and energy that you bring to building great products that use our APIs. We launch a lot of APIs, many of them experimental or in Labs. This round of spring cleaning is designed to let us do a better job by focusing more effort on fewer APIs, so that you can continue to count on them.

Deprecating the Translate API was the hardest choice for us to make — we’re excited about the global web, and about helping developers and webmasters anywhere reach audiences everywhere. We continue to invest in our Translate offerings, including the Google Translate web element. But the Translate API was subject to extensive abuse — the vast majority of usage was in clear violation of our terms. The painful part of turning off this API is that we recognize it affects some legitimate usage as well, and we’re sorry about that; we hope that our other offerings will cover many of those legitimate use cases.

We are listening, and we really appreciate your thoughtful responses to this post.

5/27/2011 8:24 PM       Justin said…

I am surprised at how big an impact this is having on my perception of Google. I have never touched the Bing search engine and, like a lot of people, took it as a matter of common sense that Google was the naturally “good” company while Microsoft was “evil” as a matter of habit. This move has completely turned these assumptions on their head (for me).

Microsoft upgrades APIs all the time. Microsoft stops developing tech all the time which means that it becomes a poor choice for new projects and probably for really long-lived ones as well.

Honestly though, I cannot at the moment think of a single example of Microsoft taking away a released capability that developers are using in production. In fact, these days, Microsoft is even more likely to contribute non-strategic tech (like IronPython) to the community.

Basically, I have just had it really driven into my head that Microsoft gets developers and the importance of developer loyalty in the long term while Google clearly does not. Microsoft is the safer, and “less evil” party to rely on in apps that I am going to put my name on.

Google, thank you for switching this light-bulb on for me before I became too dependent on you. I use some of your APIs and was planning on using a tonne more. I was just about to release an app to the iOS App Store that uses the Feedburner API in a few places. I should change that ASAP.

Again, Google. Thank you for revealing your core philosophies here. I was making some really dangerous assumptions about you.

5/27/2011 5:28 PM    Koul said…

Seriously, Translate API is more useful than all the rest combined. Don’t shut if off Google Team.

5/28/2011 6:48 AM     Sulfus said…

I thought Larry’s return would be good for users and developers alike the opposite seems to be happening..

5/28/2011 8:30 AM    wolverine said…

You know what the problem is with Translate API? It’s getting better each day due to unprecedented input from users and Google doesn’t want to share it. They want it for themselves, despite the fact it was improved by a wealth of people. Don’t make any mistakes. Translation technology is one of the keys for A.I. Google is making aggressive moves to undermine any efforts by independent developers on this technology.

5/28/2011 10:59 AM    Peter [quite probably from Google] said…

The Translate API is abused heavily by Black hat SEO types who use it to create autoblogs.
While some SEO types only make a few, there are a few firms that make hundreds if not thousands of these autoblogs that use the Google Translate API. The reason that half your Google search results today are filled with crap is because of the abuse of the Google Translate API.

I’m also betting that a few of you are some of those people.

5/28/2011 4:36 PM    Florian Rohrweck said…

Extensive abuse means: Spammers used the translate API for millions of emails, forum entries, chat-spam and so on. Other websites offered a “translation service” that was branded differently but used google’s translate api encapsulated. and so on. Thank these people for the shutdown and don’t blame google. What would you do if someone rapes your good will? Don’t be childish.

Charging for the translate API would be a good alternative.

Google Translate API (Deprecated) (emphasis is mine)

The Google Translate API has been officially deprecated as of May 26, 2011. Due to the substantial economic burden caused by extensive abuse, the number of requests you may make per day will be limited and the API will be shut off completely on December 1, 2011. For website translations, we encourage you to use the Google Translate Element.


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