Google Does a Little Project Downsizing - The UpStream

Google Does a Little Project Downsizing

posted Saturday Sep 3, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Google Does a Little Project Downsizing

Ever since Larry Page reclaimed the reigns of Google a few months ago, he has been making a lot of changes to get the company back to their roots. He has even tried to regain the fun start-up feel by mathematical constants vs regular whole numbers on an important auction. This week he is working on trimming some of the corporate fat by closing some of the many worthless Google projects.

The most notable product to be axed is Google Desktop. For those who do not know, Google Desktop was a system add-on that allowed you to search your computer with the same familiar style of any other Google search. The product was originally created for Windows when XP did not have an indexed search option for the platform, so the ability to index your files and search quickly was a definite advantage. In modern operating systems like Windows 7 or MacOS X, files are indexed regularly by the OS itself, eliminating the need for an add-on like this. September 15 will mark the end of Desktop, including all support and APIs.

For us here at PLuGHiTz Live!, the one that really hits home is Google Pack. For those of you who have been following us from the beginning, Google Pack was one of our first sponsors for the site and the show. While the products that have been a part of the pack have lost a lot of relevance over the years, it is still a little odd for us to know the product that got us started will be no more. Google's announcement made the closure immediate, so the product is already gone. The website, however, is still around and you can still download the products directly from their respective websites from the links.

What are other 8 products that will end? Hit the break to find out.

In a similar move to HP and webOS, Google is dumping Aardvark a start-up they purchased in 2010 for $50 million. The idea was to implement a social search concept, allowing users to ask questions and get answers. Google has worked hard to implement social search into their standard algorithm, including the famous +1 button. What they learned from Aardvark probably went into that project and others.

Fast Flip, one of Google's many experiments, was designed to be a new way to interact with news. While the product is not something that is marketable, it has led to a number of changes (for the better or worse) in the display style of many Google products.

Google Maps has somehow become the standard for web-based mapping, but people who want to interact with Google Maps for Flash API will be a little out of luck. Their primary API is entirely Javascript-based, so ActionScript-based apps needed a better way to interact. That better way is over.

Google Web Security, a product they acquired through an acquisition of another product, never really gained any traction as it was a poorly designed system and had little real-world use. The concepts, however, have since been implemented into Chrome and search (you know that red screen that says "Don't go here!"), so maybe it wasn't all for nothing.

Google Notebook, a product we thought was a little interesting a long time ago, turned out to be entirely useless when they launched Google Docs. Luckily, while shutting down Notebook entirely, all documents will be transferred to Docs, where they probably should have been created in the first place anyway.

There are also a few other products being closed: Image Labeler, which was really a game that was created as a software test; Sidewiki, one of the several failed attempts at doing something social; Subscribed Links, a way to customize search results based on conditions from the developer. These products probably never had a home in the Google lineup and are ready to be retired.

Google justifies the decision to close up products they have spent a lot of time and money on by saying,

We've never been afraid to try big, bold things, and that won't change. We'll continue to take risks on interesting new technologies with a lot of potential. But by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience.

My guess is that moving forward, Google will make less decisions to start projects like these and, instead, focus on the few things they were once good at.

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