Google doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to supporting its many products. A stroll through the Google Graveyard shows the headstones of many hyped-up ideas the company killed and buried. As someone who uses Google and its apps on a daily basis, I’ve sometimes gotten caught up in the excitement over a new product launch. Time and time again, I’ve been disappointed, as I felt I’d eventually be with Google Fi.
Google Fi is Google’s wireless phone service, and like so many Google products, it started out with a lot of promise. Like it does in so many industries, Google busted in with the hopes of making change — of deviating from the typical business model. When it arrived, Fi was all about making your phone bill cheaper. It was all about offering innovations in the wireless space, like free international data. Fast forward to today, and Fi is looking more and more like your everyday wireless carrier.
Fi now offers a more expensive unlimited plan it seems highly intent on steering customers toward. Thanks to decisions made on the messaging side at Google, Hangouts integration is no longer a thing, which means there’s no path to sending and receiving texts through the web. Google says you can still use Google Voice for this, though I’m as shocked as anyone that is still around. Who knows how long that’ll last. But as anyone with an iPhone will tell you, Google Voice is a no-go if you want to use iMessage and not have two different phone numbers to hand out.
Fi is getting more picky about international data. There are stories of new policies being enacted without users getting the news. If you’re abroad too long, the company will come in and shut you down. I’d read countless stories like these in the past, and often felt fearful about traveling internationally solely because I thought my Google Fi account might get terminated. Google has even closed the accounts of active duty military members who have a pretty good reason for being overseas.
And simply put, Fi has stopped innovating. It took way too long for the company to finally implement eSIM. And customers aren’t really seeing the benefits outside the phone setup process. Google Fi still doesn’t support Apple Watch, which in the end, finally murdered any and all desire I had to stay. Users with Apple devices are already treated like second-class citizens on Fi to some degree. The lack of a roadmap for Apple Watch support really sealed the deal for my departure.
I wound up moving to Xfinity Mobile. I’m getting a discount on my monthly home internet service thanks to the move. My wireless bill is roughly the same as it was on Fi. And Xfinity Mobile — an MVNO just like Google Fi — supports the Apple Watch. It was a pretty easy decision to make.
I can see Google Fi eventually ending up in that Google Graveyard just like so many other Google services before it. It’s yet another initiative the company fell short on. It’s another Google Fiber. It’s another Stadia.
Fi arrived with the hopes of infusing some spark into an otherwise drab industry. Instead, it conformed. If we’re still talking about Google Fi as a service that still exists two or three years from now, I will be shocked.