Google Cuts Ten Products, Refocuses

Google Logo Google announced today, via The Official Google Blog, that they’re going to be shutting down ten of their products and services, some of which will live on as features of other products. They’re going to be transferring the resources to “high impact products” which they feel impact more users.

Lifted right from their post:

  • Aardvark: Aardvark was a start-up we acquired in 2010. An experiment in a new kind of social search, it helped people answer each other’s questions. While Aardvark will be closing, we’ll continue to work on tools that enable people to connect and discover richer knowledge about the world.
  • Desktop: In the last few years, there’s been a huge shift from local to cloud-based storage and computing, as well as the integration of search and gadget functionality into most modern operating systems. People now have instant access to their data, whether online or offline. As this was the goal of Google Desktop, the product will be discontinued on September 14, including all the associated APIs, services, plugins, gadgets and support.
  • Fast Flip: Fast Flip was started to help pioneer news content browsing and reading experiences for the web and mobile devices. For the past two years, in collaboration with publishers, the Fast Flip experiment has fueled a new approach to faster, richer content display on the web. This approach will live on in our other display and delivery tools.
  • Google Maps API for Flash: The Google Maps API for Flash was launched to provide ActionScript developers a way to integrate Google Maps into their applications. Although we’re deprecating the API, we’ll keep supporting existing Google Maps API Premier customers using the Google Maps API for Flash and we’ll focus our attention on the JavaScript Maps API v3 going forward.
  • Google Pack: Due to the rapidly decreasing demand for downloadable software in favor of web apps, we will discontinue Google Pack today. People will still be able to access Google’s and our partners’ software quickly and easily through direct links on the Google Pack website.
  • Google Web Security: Google Web Security came to Google as part of the Postini acquisition in 2007, and since then we’ve integrated much of the web security functionality directly into existing Google products, such as safe browsing in Chrome. Although our previous sales channel will be discontinued, we’ll continue to support our existing customers.
  • Image Labeler: We began Google Image Labeler as a fun game to help people explore and label the images on the web. Although it will be discontinued, a wide variety of online games from Google are still available.
  • Notebook: Google Notebook enabled people to combine clipped URLs from the web and free-form notes into documents they could share and publish. We’ll be shutting down Google Notebook in the coming months, but we’ll automatically export all notebook data to Google Docs.
  • Sidewiki: Over the past few years, we’ve seen extraordinary innovation in terms of making the web collaborative. So we’ve decided to discontinue Sidewiki and focus instead on our broader social initiatives. Sidewiki authors will be given more details about this closure in the weeks ahead, and they’ll have a number of months to download their content.
  • Subscribed Links: Subscribed Links enabled developers to create specialized search results that were added to the normal Google search results on relevant queries for subscribed users. Although we’ll be discontinuing Subscribed Links, developers will be able to access and download their data until September 15, at which point subscribed links will no longer appear in people’s search results.

Aardvark is the one I’ll miss the most, because it is the one I used the most. I asked a couple of questions, but I’ve mainly been answering other users’ questions since the very early days of the service. I don’t know, I kind of get a kick out of having random questions pop up in Google talk. Looking at my history I answered my first question on July 6, 2009 and my most recent, number 443, on August 22, 2011. Coincidentally they both involved TiVo. I could see something like this getting built into Google+, asking your circles for answers, etc.

Google Desktop I still have installed, but I haven’t really used it in ages. I installed it mainly out of habit. I have to agree with Google, with most of my work in the cloud I just don’t really need the features of Desktop.

Fast Flip… I never got this. Did anyone really use this?

Google Maps API for Flash – I’m not sure I’ve encountered a Flash app that used it, and I’m not a Flash developer, so I don’t care.

Google Pack is something else I still have installed. But I won’t miss it. I use Google Pack just because it makes installing a few apps on a new machine easier. I have Skype, RealPlayer, Adobe Reader, Google Picasa, Google Chrome, and Google Earth. I don’t use the Pack version of Google Apps because they’re actually the Gmail versions. Since I use the full, hosted Google Apps I use the special versions downloaded from there. Losing Pack just means a little more work when first installing these apps on a new box, no big deal.

Google Web Security has been spread around into other products, so it isn’t really a loss. Having the features transparently embedded elsewhere is better.

Image Labeler – I’d never even heard of this before now.

Notebook – I vaguely remember hearing of this, but I never used it.

Sidewiki – This I still have installed, but it is more force of habit. It was something that I thought was kind of curious when it launched, and I played with it for a bit, but it never caught on. It felt like a waste writing notes when it seemed like no one else was using it, and since no one else was using it there were rarely other notes to read. I expect to see more commenting hooks into Google+ that will probably catch on more than Sidewiki ever did.

Subscribed Links is something else I’d heard of, but never used myself, so I won’t miss it.

I can’t argue with Google phasing out these products and services and putting the resources into more important products, or into new ideas. I’m glad Google takes risks with projects like these, trying new things to see what sticks. If something is successful it gets beefed up into a more complete product. If it is partially successful then the pieces that work get recycled into other projects. And if it just doesn’t catch on enough to justify continued effort, then it is a learning experience. Google doesn’t need everything to be a smash hit, but they need to keep trying things because no one can say what the next smash hit product will be.

So what do you think about the cuts? Leave a comment!

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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