One of the things Larry Page of Google was mentored to do was to re-appraise has business and to cease non performing products.  (Every great leader uses mentors)  Well, he has taken that advice on board and done just that.  He has instructed his people to examine the system.  "We're in the process of shutting a number of products which haven't had the impact we'd hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward," Urs Holzle, senior vice president of operations at Google, wrote in a blog post.

Some products closed or closing are:

Friend Connect, Knol, Google Health, Google Buzz, Bookmarks Lists, Search Timeline, Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, Jaiku, Aardvark, Fast Flip, Sidewiki, Image Labeler, Health, PowerMeter, Desktop, Notebook, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Web Security, Google Pack, Subscribed Links and others.

"All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products. As for our users, we'll communicate directly with them as we make these changes, giving sufficient time to make the transition and enabling them to take their data with them," Google's senior VP, Alan Eustace, wrote on the Official Google Blog.

Google have decided to do what they are good at, search, and are going back to basics.  They don’t want to be "Jack of all trades and master of none".  And, while they are the leaders in this field, they want to further consolidate their position.  The decision to reduce products indicates precisely their new maturity and professionalism and this new direction will protect Google from becoming too large to run and too fat to stand (as we saw happened to IBM, Microsoft, AOL, Nokia, and Google itself). More focused and less diffuse.

Some of these products will end almost immediately or have already ended, giving users little time to pull their data or choose a new service. 

Google said it has completely killed Desktop, "including all the associated APIs, services, plugins, gadgets and support," on 14th September. 

Notebook, a browser-based app for creating and storing documents, has a longer lease on life (possibly months, according to Google). Once the service is closed, Google will fold all users' data from Notebooks into Google Docs.

Fast Flip, Google's news aggregator that featured a newspaper-like interface, will be stopped "in the next few days," as reported by Search Engine Land. Google says that Fast Flip's notable features "will live on in our other display and delivery tools."

Social search service Aardvark, acquired by Google for $50 million in 2010, wrote on its own company blog on Friday that the service will cease before October.  "In the spirit of data liberation, we want to make sure that any of you Aardvark users who would like to retrieve your past data from the service can do so," writes the Aardvark blog. As with Fast Flip, some of Aardvark's tools will be used to improve other Google products.

Friend Connect lets websites include social features on their sites so that visitors can do things like add comments, sign in, view other users and vote in polls. Friend Connect may be the most high-profile of the services to be closed. Google said it is "retiring" the service for all non-Blogger sites on 1 March.  In fact Google and Facebook were at loggerheads on this product.  Facebook blocked it from accessing Facebook member data, arguing that the service redistributed Facebook data without proper user permission. The service competed with a similar one from Facebook called Facebook Connect. Google want those affected to use Google+. 

Bookmarks Lists lets people share bookmarks, which will be stopped on 19th December.

Search Timeline can display a historical graph of results for a search query. But people can still look at search results from a specified time period using tools that appear on the left-hand side of the search page.

Knol, a Wikipedia-like service that lets people collaborate on writing articles, will operate until 30th April 2012 and people will be able to download articles until 1st October, after which time the site will no longer be accessible. Annotum is the platform Google wants people to use instead.

You can see the Google blog here



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