Lately I've had it with Google and Larry's Spring Cleanings. First it was the Appointment Slots in the Google Calendar, now it's Google Reader!
Both are perfectly fine features/products that definitely commanded a large audience. I was trying to explain Google's motivation behind getting rid of Appointment slots, a feature that allows the calendar owner (think a dental office or a hair salon) to mark certain spots on the calendar as available for appointments, automating a time-consuming and error prone process of taking appointments on the phone. I tried to explain it by the need to focus on the platform and leave the customer-centric functionality to other developers who can do it better because they understand the customer better or they can focus on a specific industry.
However, that logic only goes so far. You don't throw out a feature only to take it back after people start relying on it. You risk changing the perception in the marketplace not only of yourselves but the entire eco-system! This has far-reaching consequences. The industry has fought long and hard to earn a reputation of safety and security when it comes to SaaS-based products/services. You don't want to ruin it by breaking the trust!
The truth is Google Doesn't Care About You, The Customer! They care about technology, they care about building smart algorithms, they care about building the best platform, but they DON'T care about the customer.. Customer to them is a byproduct, a number. And they crunch these customers/numbers all day long every day, using the intelligence to make the product better. But customers themselves to them are expandable. And whether these customers have come to rely on a particular feature or product is also irrelevant. Good or Bad.. Bad for obvious reasons, and good because they allow an eco-system of customer-centric application providers to step in and fill the gap.
So if you are looking for a Google Appointment Slots replacement, here's one such SaaS application provider. The rates are reasonable and they do a better job at workflow management than Google did (meaning that they will send out confirmation emails, handle rescheduling, etc.)