Another Day, Another Death For A Google Offering
July 4, 2012

Another Day, Another Death For A Google Offering

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

I´ve said it before; Google is an odd duck. No doubt we´ve all heard stories about their extreme hiring practices and extreme eagerness to throw some money behind their employees´ little pet projects.

As a result, Google has famously announced products and features with abandon, many of which those who aren´t geeks in California have never even heard of. Unfortunately, Google has also become famous for shuttering these products, laying them to rest despite whether we´ve ever heard of them or not.

This mass-killing has picked up in the past year since Larry Page returned as CEO, winding down Google Labs – the portion of the company which allowed such willy-nilly employee projects – and announcing a new plan to throw “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

Claiming to be doing some “Spring cleaning in summer,” Google has continued their pledge to strip down and simplify, saying they will kill some of their products that you´ve likely never heard of unless you rely on them.

On the killing room floor this time are:

- Google Mini, part of Google´s Enterprise Search. Google says they will officially off this product on July 31st. Its functionality can be better provided by products such as Google Search Appliance and Google Site Search, according to their official BlogSpot blog.

- Google Talk Chatback, a widget which allowed website owners to interact directly with their visitors. Google simply called this one outdated, and are asking those who use this widget (I´ve never used it, anyway) to use the Meebo bar.

- Google Video, which has stopped taking uploads more than 3 years ago, is finally going away. Users have until August 20 to delete or migrate their data. Apparently Google owns another, more popular video service and is encouraging users to shuffle on over there.

- Symbian Search App, the official Google Search app for the Symbian platform on Nokia smartphones. Rather than attempt to improve each individual search app, Google says they will focus on improving web search and all who use it will experience their improvements. Fewer arrows, indeed.

- iGoogle, the customizable Google front page will be laid to rest on November 1, 2013. iGoogle was a great start page which laid out information widgets such as news, stock and weather as well as other web feeds and social networking feeds on one page.

Of all the products listed, I´ve ever only used one: iGoogle.

I used it as my start page and enjoyed being able to see my email, calendar, twitter and several news feeds, in real time, at a glance. However, I had stopped using it several months ago as I made a move away from Google in the light of some privacy issues.

It´s been suggested that perhaps Google made these announcements just before the American holiday to try and slip them under the radar. While clever, it´s entirely likely few people would have even noticed the absence of Chatback or Google Mini, no matter when they made the announcement.

Explaining their moves, Google says streamlining their services enables them to “focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve people´s lives.”

Of course, the words “beautiful technology” are hyper-linked to a page about Google´s recent I/O announcements, like their butter-flavored Jelly Bean and their Nexus offerings. Love ℠em or not, focusing on fewer products is just a good idea,  one that sounds awfully familiar.