So the Google machine is finally slowing down a bit… With the economic recession and slowing revenue growth – Google is no longer the darling tech stock that it once was. The blitzkrieg approach is showing signs of the strain and Google has been taking a long hard look at it’s core business and has started shedding some of it’s fat.
In addition to the personnel and perks – Google has also started shutting down some of it’s products – here are some that are reaching or have reached their EOL (End of Life)
- Google Notebook – some of my friends really liked this one and it was good with the Firefox extension but after Google Docs and now the To-Do list in GMail it started getting less relevant. The main problem for me was – without the extension – it was just another to-do list web-site I had to remember to go to and often I needed the list when I was not anywhere near a net connection (yes – I admit it I don’t have a cell phone with a data plan).
- Google Video – This one is obvious. When they bought You-Tube the writing was on the wall for Google Video and with the incorporation of video search using the universal search interface it was made even less relevant. Google has disabled the uploading of videos but is still allowing the search and viewing of existing videos. The pity is that Google Video did not have file upload limits the way You-Tube does which allowed for the upload and dissemination of some great presentations and learning videos.
- Jaiku – This is not going away completely – as I understand it, Googlers are planning to re-factor the code to use the Google App Engine and then release the source code.
- Google Catalog Search – It was started as a showcase of OCR technology. Now with Google Book Search incorporating the technology and the Google Search Wiki it’s not as relevant to Google I guess.
- Dodgeball – This is again an obvious one. It was a start-up purporting to provide networking and communication services to people in the same geographical areas. Google bought it but never did anything further with it and the founders of the company finally quit Google in disgust.
- GrandCentral – This one is still there but it has been inactive for a long while. I think the problem with GrandCentral is the lack of a clear monetization strategy that fits into Google’s business model advertising. Besides – GTalk has video chat and voice now which might be the direction Google is taking. Recent indications only serve to reinforce this theory.
- Lively – This was Google’s foray into the arena of virtual worlds. I am not really a big fan of the virtual worlds concept (I think it’s way too early and limiting – it needs ubiquitous access to virtual reality hardware for the concept to make sense) so I largely ignored this one. It seemed so did a large number of people so it’s dead. The announcement came last November itself.
All these are good steps and they portray a company that is mature enough to realize that sometimes tough steps need to be taken and pragmatic enough to take them.
Google has had an image as a naive, starry eyed dreamer – these steps will puncture that image. But, then I would rather have Google surviving the hard times at the expense of it’s naive image than it failing because of it. In the end the company makes great software and there are too many people – myself included who use it’s software every day and would miss it if it were to go away.
I can live with a few less Google Products if I can continue to get the ones that I use everyday ;-)