Alan Eastace, a senior vice president at Google announced the end of 9+ projects at Google. In a rather bold statement, Alan states “Technology improves, people’s needs change, some bets pay off and others don’t. So, as Larry previewed on our last earnings call, today we’re having a fall spring-clean at Google.”
Probably one of the biggest surprises is the closure of Aardvark which was acquired by Google back in February 2010 for a whopping $50 million dollars. Aardvark (formerly Mechanical Zoo) is a social search engine, founded by a group of former Google employees. Aardvark lets users ask questions that are distributed to the social graph for a quick and high quality answers, somewhat similar to Quora.
Google Desktop will also completely shut down on September 14, this includes the relevant APIs and widgets. Google’s reasoning behind abandoning Desktop is the current shift in data storage from local to the cloud. Google’s Fast Flip is also closing down and will be removed from Google News within the next few days. Fast Flip allowed users to browse through Google News in a magazine-style layout and was previously thought to become the successor to Google News with publishers taking advantage of built-in micropayments to sell content.
Other projects being shut down by Google include Google Sidewiki, a place to leave comments about any webpage given that the user was logged into a Google account.
More projects on the chopping block include:
- 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 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.
Lastly, Alan states that “by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience”. What he really means by that statement is fact that Google needs to shift its engineering resources to Google+, a project competing head-on with arch rival social networking giant Facebook.