A eulogy for Google’s forgotten services.
Google has their fingers in many, many pies. Due to the astronomical number of Google account holders for various popular cloud supported services (Google+, Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Blogger, etc.) it’s almost hard to imagine Google would ever have a failing project. However, last week Google announced seven specific services it would stop hosting due to lack of use, and some of these services you might have never even heard of.
Although Wave didn’t get much of start, and was swiftly squelched by Google shortly after its inception, it’s quietly been operational behind all of the negative press (although no development has happened on the product since August 2010). However, Google has announced that on January 31st, 2012, creation of new Waves will be disabled and the site will be read-only. Google projects that all content will be stop being hosted on April 30th, 2012.
Google Bookmarks List
A good idea in theory, Google Bookmarks List allowed users to share interesting bookmarks with friends, similar to StumbledUpon. However, the user base never got going and Google announced that the service will be shut down December 19th, 2011.
Google Friend Connect
Mostly replaced now by Google+, losing Google Friend connect isn’t a tragedy. Although it will be shut down on March 1st, 2012, it will continue to be a function on Blogger.
Little did I know Google was attempting to create a Wikipedia killer. Unlike Wikipedia however, Knol was intended to be written entirely by experts and professionals in the field related to the article topics they were writing. However, limiting the crowd available to crowdsource didn’t turn out in Google’s favor and Knol’s traffic went nowhere. The site will be shut down on April 30th, 2012, but the content won’t be deleted until October 1st, 2012.
Not all of these stories end sadly, however. WordPress.com has decided to pick up the Knol project. Knol users will be given the chance to host what they’ve written on a WordPress site or to launch their own mini-Knol site based on their area of expertise.
Gears allowed limited browser functionality offline for Google users. Ultimately, HTML5 has come to match all of Gears functionality. Over a year ago, Google announced that Gears would be deprecated. Officially on December 1st however, Gmail and Calendar will no longer offer support of Gears.
Google Search Timeline
Again, Search Timeline is a product that has been matched and replaced by added functionality in Google Trends and Search Insights. Aside from the graphical representation of the chart itself, Search Timeline simply plotted historical query volume. No specific word on when it will be shut down, but it too, is getting the axe.
Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C)
RE<C was a project to make solar energy a viable alternative to coal. Although Google still finds it a worthy goal to pursue (and Google still has many other green projects in the works), they have stated that they find other companies and projects better suited to pursue making renewable energy cheaper than coal. Instead of simply shutting down the project, Google has made all of their research into this issue available to the public.
Analysts speculate that shutting down services that never really went anywhere might negatively affect users’ excitement for future Google products. Some wonder if Google is trying to cut back on its plethora of services to focus on making Google+ the Facebook killer. Google+ hasn’t done much since its launch, but its launch was no laughing matter. The social networking site’s user base grew to 40 million in its first100 days. That growth rate is faster than MySpace, Facebook, or any other social networking site. Bottom line: the Internet loves Google but Gmail users alone can’t support seven services by Google that had no where to go but down. We’ll see how Google’s next endeavors pan out.