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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Google Kills Off Several Products

Just recently, Google’s 3D world Lively was shut down. Now Google announced they’re canceling a couple of other products or product features. These are:

(Google-acquired “activity streamer” Jaiku, on the other hand, will be migrated. Google says they “are in the process of porting Jaiku over to Google App Engine. After the migration is complete, we will release the new open source Jaiku Engine project on Google Code under the Apache License. While Google will no longer actively develop the Jaiku codebase, the service itself will live on”.)

Google is acting quick and getting leaner during the recession, and sometimes that’s good to focus on what’s important. Not doing so, you risk trembling over your own weight, and especially deserted products like Google Catalog won’t be missed by many. On the other hand, some of the users of the now canceled products, like the Mashup Editor, may begin to miss their tools, and trust Google less when it comes to future choices of where to put their content. Reto Meier in the comments writes:

The loss of the Mashup Editor is quite a blow to me personally.

I’ve got a few sites hosted there, two of which have nearly a thousand daily page views. It’s going to be a pain porting them over to the App Engine :(

If all these are signs of a less experimental, more consolidated Google*, then there may be another side effect: potential employees may be less willing to apply for a job. For one thing, a rather free-roaming environment is an attractive job feature for developers. Also, if you were a genius programmer in the mood to create a new product with uncertain future and user base – a product which you believe might take a lot of fighting for it to evolve into something great – would you apply at Google, a company that killed of their exploration of a social 3D world after just little over 5 months? Or would you rather start-up your own little company... including the potential to get acquired by a bigger company, like Google, later on?

[Thanks James!]

*Also see BBC, who talked to Google’s Matt Cutts. “Matt insisted that the early spirit of freedom and experimentation was still there in the culture. But when I pressed him on whether even Google could afford that luxury in harder times, he admitted that people like him now had perhaps to be a little more focussed on the bottom line. But he said the one day in five spent on personal projects was not being discarded.” I wonder if Matt’s perspective, being as BBC puts it a “greybeard” in the company (he’s there since 2000), is representative for the situation at large?


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