Google Feels the Squeeze, Shuts Down Services

The company is scaling back on multiple fronts...and I'm feeling good about it.

By  |  Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Google in a ViseGoogle is so fabulously successful, and invests its vast resources in new projects so energetically, that it was tempting to assume it could cheerfully ignore the state of the U.S. economy. Well, no. In a series of blog posts tonight, the company announced a series of cutbacks to services it operates. Taken individually, they’re not a huge whoop, but it’s startling to see them all come down at once.

Here’s the damage:

Dodgeball, a Twitter-like service that Google bought in 2005 before there was a Twitter, will fold;

Google Catalog Search, which put the contents of printed catalogs–hey, they still exist?–online, is going bye-bye;

Google Mashup Editor, which is still in private beta, won’t ever emerge from it--the more powerful Google App Engine will supplant it;

Google Notebook, a service which Google once promoted pretty heavily, will cease development, thereby continuing to exist for current users in a sort of suspended animation;

Google Video will stop accepting new uploads, thereby becoming a pure video search engine (which makes perfect sense given that Google owns YouTube, the mother of all video upload services);

Jaiku, yet another Twitter-like service acquired by Google, is being ported to Google’s App Engine platform, whereupon it will depend on volunteer developers for further evolution.

No word on how many Googlers are affected by this downscaling of ambition, but two Google Blog posts report that the company is laying off a hundred recruiters and eliminating engineering jobs in Texas, Norway, and Sweden (while hoping to retain the engineers in those positions).

Naturally, some folks are wondering if additional Google shoes are soon to drop–like, say, the discontinuation of its GrandCentral phone service. (I sure hope not–I’m using it and finding it valuable, and GrandCentral, back when it was signing up new users, did so on the premise that it was offering them a phone number “for life.”)

All this news is sad for anyone who liked the services in question, and sadder still for the Google employees who worked on them. But the cuts sound logical: They affect offerings that were redundant, irrelevant, and/or not very successful. And I don’t think I’m being entirely Pollyannish to think that it’s a smart, healthy move to Google to give up on some efforts that are unlikely to be hugely popular in order to focus on those that are already hits or have the potential to become ones.

I’d sure rather have a Google that does somewhat fewer things and does them as well as possible, anyhow…


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Matt Williamson Says:

    This is likely a good thing for Google. Focusing more eyes on the core.

  2. Dragos Says:

    As someone who uses Notebook daily (along many others), I consider dropping it a very bad move from Google.
    I find your analysis quite simplistic: instead of the typical business-lingo stuff (“concentrating on core issues etc”), I think there are some worrying facts to be noted here, which could use some attention: as a service provider, Google has responsibilities. You can’t provide people with valuable services which they start using and basing workflows on and then pull the plug ’cause play time it’s over. What message does this send to people interested in using Google’s business offerings? And what message does this send to people interested in the new & trendy cloud stuff?
    I found myself suddenly a lot less interested in Google offerings and in all the “put your stuff on the web” trend.


  3. Relyt Says:

    For everyone who used notebook:

    Evernote is offering a google notebook import tool to put all of your notes in evernote. I use evernote – and its great!