Given the recent closing of Google Wave and Eric Schmidt’s celebration of their product failures, we thought it would be fun to pull together some of Google’s other product failures. If you like the graphic you’re welcome to embed the Google Failures infographic on your own site, link to it, or give it a Digg/Stumble/Etc.
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There have been plenty – we’ve found well over 50 Google project failures and counting!
Some might say Google Buzz is one of Google’s biggest flops because of the huge amount of hype it gathered before its release, and the project’s subsequent utter failure.
Google pulls the plug on its projects for a number of reasons, and not all are bad. Sometimes the projects get absorbed into other areas. Other times the return on investment isn’t worth continuing the project for – too much effort and not enough return. Lack of interest, or simply knowing when one is beat, are some other reasons. The internet is a field that is continuingly growing and shifting, and as a result, sometimes implementations that seem necessary and useful one month become outdated and irrelevant the next.
Despite the long list of failures, don’t start feeling too bad for Google – they’ve had plenty of successes too. And when Google hits gold, they usually hit it pretty deep. Google Chrome was been a tremendous success as a web browser, despite plenty of established competition. Google+, depending on who talk to, continues to grow as a healthy alternative to Facebook.
Android Phones have done very well, and Google’s takeover of YouTube has improved the site, rather than led to its destruction, as was the case for some of Google’s other acquisitions. Google News continues to thrive, and Google Maps has become to go-to place for trip planning, beating out the longtime champion MapQuest. And of course, Google has hit the jackpot with Google Advertising, as it continues to develop its main revenue stream.
Google has tremendous power in the webasphere, called a monopoly by many, so attacks against Google’s ego usually get more attention rather than confirmations of Google’s glory. Google successes often integrate so seamlessly into the Google experience, that we forget they were once just experiments, as susceptible to failure as other Google products.
Google’s history of making efforts to extend itself into new markets has resulted in a lot of experimentation. Some of these projects have made Google a better search engine or have helped Google grow in a manner that is useful to users. Others, however, have not been so lucky; with so much experimenting, plenty of projects end up in the Frankenstein pile.
Google X was a version of Google’s classic homepage, modeled after the Mac OS interface. Google even crafted a haiku saying, “Roses are red, violets are blue. OS X rocks, homage to you.” It’s difficult to imagine Google honoring Apple today, considering their continued rivalry. Google X only last one day, with Google opting to stick with their tried and true layout.
Google Catalogs was a search engine for print catalogs, and struggled through its seven years in existence before being shut down by Google, who finally figured out that only internet illiterates continue to use catalogs.
Google’s downloadable Web Accelerator was a proxy server used to reduce web access times via caching technology. The Web Accelerator had enough bugs and privacy issues that it was put out of commission in 2008.
That’s right – Google use to have its own video player. The Google Video Player was a standalone desktop application for playing Google video files. Despite being branded with the Google name, the internet has never been short on video players, and the Google Video Player was axed after a couple of years.
Hoping to compete with the established Yahoo Answers, Google created its own, creatively titled solution, Google Answers. Google Answers paid researchers for in-depth answers, asking users to bid on answers to their questions. Users ended up preferring to get their information free from Yahoo answers, even if free often means unreliable.
It was once imagined that Google Wave would reinvent email, combining regular electronic mail with instant messaging and social media. Despite the enormous hype surrounding Google Wave, users found it too complicated and Google Wave fell flat.
SearchWiki turned Google Search into a wiki. Users could log in and move results up, down, or delete entries they didn’t like. While Google searchers can still star their favorite results and give preference to them, the other wiki options were abandoned.
Google Audio Ads, a radio-based advertising platform, was intended to offer the powerful metrics of search-based advertising to broadcasters. However, measuring performance proved too difficult, and so in 2009 Google Audio Ads was tuned out.
Dodgeball was a mobile social networking service that Google bought out in 2005. The founder of Dodgeball left Google and went on to start Foursquare, the current leader in location-based check-in apps. Dodgeball was junked, and Google went on to launch the mobile app Latitude, which is proving equally unsuccessful.
Jaiku was a microblogging service similar to Twitter, with its posts resembling haikus. Jaiku never quite took off, so Google has since opened-sourced the code and no longer develops it.
Google Notebook was a browser-based application that let users cut, paste, save, and share text, links, and images from the web to a personal “notebook.” This functionality has since been replaced by Google Docs, but really it’s Evernote who ended up taking this idea and running with it.
Google Page Creator was a tool designed to help users create web pages, which were then hosted on Google’s servers. Google halted the product in 2008 to focus on Google Sites instead.
Google Buzz was a social network that was another attempt to keep up with Facebook and Twitter, serving as an opt-out service for Gmail users. Many users were unhappy with Buzz, and it has since been disbanded.
That depends on who you ask. Google’s effort to compete with Facebook and other social media networks, Google+, was launched in June 2011. Compared to Facebook, it’s just a baby. Although many complain that Google+ feels like a ghost town, Google+ claims 100 million monthly users.
Not bad, unless you are comparing it to Facebook’s 900 million monthly users, in which case Google vs. Facebook looks like a David vs. Goliath situation. We won’t be able to declare the ultimate victor until Google+ gets through the tween stage, and with backing from the King of Search, Facebook shouldn’t be throwing a party just yet.
Yes – there are many Google failures and flops in the graveyard. We highlighted some of the top Google flops, but there are many more where those came from. Here is a list of some additional Google failed projects:
Google Knol: Launched in 2007 to create web content formed by collaborating experts, Google Knol project files were transferred to WordPress before shutting down in 2012.
Picnik: In March 2010, Google bought Picnik, one of the pioneers of cloud photo-editing, but abandoned it for Google+. Picnik’s more popular photo editing features were integrated into Google+ photo editing.
Aardvark: Google acquired Aardvark in 2010, aiming to have users answer one another’s questions, much like the more successful Quora.
Google Desktop: Google Desktop was a program that allowed for text searches of a user’s e-mails, computer files, music, photos, chats, Web pages viewed, etc. As this became standard in computer operating systems, Google disbanded the project.
Google Pack: Google Pack was a software bundling and updating system that was started and discontinued in 2006.
Image Labeler: Google Image Labeler was a game that had users label random images, in an effort to improve Google image results. Started in 2006, the project was shut down in 2011.
Google Web Security: Part of the Postini acquisition in 2007, this offered enterprise security and was discontinued in 2011.
Google Gears: Google Gears was a browser extension for creating offline web applications.
Google Lively: Lively consisted of web based virtual worlds that could be embedded into other websites. It only lasted four months from when it was first launched in July 2008.
Google Checkout: Checkout was an online payment processing service provided by Google that aimed to simplify the process of paying for online purchases. Users could store credit cards and shipping info on their Google Account, and could use the stored info at participating web stores. Google Checkout was replaced by Google Wallet on September 19, 2011.
Search Mash: Search Mash let users reorder aka “mashup” their own search results by dragging and dropping results. This project was a bit too much of success – some people were content with this project, and used it as their default search engine instead of Google. Google was none too pleased about this, since SearchMash was ad-free at the time. SearchMash was axed in 2008 and replaced with SearchWiki, who also was shutdown in its own due time.
Google Dictionary: Google Dictionary was an online dictionary service, branching off of the Google Translate service. The Google Dictionary website was terminated on August 5, 2011 after part of its functionality was integrated into Google Search using the define: operator.
Google Health: Google Health was a personal health information centralization service to store and manage health records, introduced by Google in 2008 and closed in 2011. The service allowed Google users to upload their health records to the Google Health system, by either manually inputting information or by logging into their accounts at partnered health service providers. The idea was to merge separate health records into one central database, letting users easily capture and share health information with different health practitioners. Retirement for Google Health was announced in January 2012, due to lack of widespread adoption.
Google One Pass: Google One Pass was created in 2011 and was an online store developed by Google for publishers looking to sell subscriptions to their content. Google announced the closure of One Pass in April 2012.
Knol: Knol was a Google project that aimed to offer user-written articles on a range of topics. Its goal was to kill Wikipedia, but the enemy Encyclopedia proved too powerful. Knol was shut down in May 2012.
Google Videos: Google Videos hoped to take a slice of the YouTube video pie, but it failed to gather much attention. They say if you can’t beat them, join them, and that’s just what Google did, buying out YouTube for $1.65 billion rather than continuing with a lost cause.
Google SMS: Google SMS was a free service for cell phone users who wanted to access Google Search through mobile but did not have the means to. By texting to 46645 (GOOGL) what you would type in Google Search, Google SMS would return a list of search results as a a series of text. Google SMS was shut down in May 2013 without any warning, foreseeable due to the rise of smart phones.
Google Cross-Language Search: Google Cross-Language Search was an advanced search tool that enabled users to search for content in another language using keywords of the language they were comfortable with. Cross-Language Search was discontinued due to the lack of use by users.
Google Checkout: Google Checkout’s ultimate goal was to make secure online payments easier – but after becoming a banned payment method on eBay, Paypal quickly overtook the market. Checkout’s failures will be the catalyst for Google Wallet.