Google Keeping a Closer Eye on Business Benefits

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-07-05

Google Axes iGoogle, Google Mini, Others as House Cleaning Continues

The Google Mini enterprise search appliance, the iGoogle personalized home page and several other Web-based services will be phased out by the company in the coming months as part of a Google services overhaul that began last September.

The company is continuing to trim some products that are "not having the impact we strive for,€ Matt Eichner, general manager of Global Enterprise Search at Google, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

On July 31, Google will end production of the Google Mini enterprise search appliance and replace it with similar existing services provided by the Google Search Appliance, Google Site Search and Google Commerce Search, Eichner wrote. The company will "continue to provide technical support to Mini customers for the duration of their contracts and will reach out to them shortly with more details."

The Google Mini appliances were released to help companies to create a beneficial new search feature for internal use or to help a Web-based company offer a zippier or more cutting-edge query corner for its audience, according to an earlier report. The Minis could index 200,000 and 300,000 documents, costing $6,000 and $9,000, respectively. The original Mini, introduced in 2005, cost $3,000 and could handle up to 100,000 documents.

Also being shelved is iGoogle, the Google home page service that could be personalized by users to give them a unique experience. It will be retired Nov. 1, because it failed to build sufficient momentum with Web users. "We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today's Web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips," Eichner wrote. "With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for iGoogle has eroded over time, so we€™ll be winding it down." Google will give existing users 16 months to adjust or export their data so they can keep it when the service shuts down.

Another service, Google Talk Chatback, is also being cut because it is "outdated," Eichner wrote in his post. The service, which "allowed Websites to embed a Google Talk widget so that they could engage with their visitors," is now being replaced with similar services from the Meebo bar, which was recently acquired by Google. Meebo allows users to create a customized stream of online content and information that matches their interests. Google will now try to encourage Websites to replace their Google Talk Chatback widgets with Meebo.

Google Keeping a Closer Eye on Business Benefits

One service cut, for Google Video, isn't too big a surprise since the service stopped allowing users to upload videos in May 2009 in preparation for changes that were to come. Now any remaining user content that is on Google Video will be moved to YouTube, which is now owned by Google, according to Eichner's post. "Google Video users have until August 20 to migrate, delete or download their content. We€™ll then move all remaining Google Video content to YouTube as private videos that users can access in the YouTube video manager."

Also slated for retirement by Google is the company's Symbian Search App, which was available for use on some Nokia mobile phones for Web searching. "We encourage you to go to and make it your homepage or bookmark it," Eichner wrote. "Switching from the app to the Web experience will enable users to make the most of the Web-wide improvements we make for search all the time."

Last September, Google continued its spring cleaning efforts when services, including Aardvark, Desktop, Fast Flip and Image Labeler were dropped. The moves have been part of Google CEO Larry Page's "more wood behind fewer arrows" bid to put the company's focus on core products, such as search through, mobile through Android, Chrome on the desktop and YouTube for video.

Page started the house-cleaning in June 2011 when he shuttered Google Health and PowerMeter and moved on to gradually close Google Labs products last July. The cleansing continued last August when Google closed social software unit Slide, an acquisition from last summer that worked independently of the Google+ team.

Dan Kusnetzky, principal analyst with The Kusnetzky Group, said that the continuing service cutbacks and realignments mark a continuing evolution at Google as a company. "Google in the past appeared to use a strategy of letting creative people come up with new technologies without a clear business plan for how it would make them money," Kusnetzky said. "Things that did well became major product lines and those that didn€™t were phased out. That's different from other companies that identify the market first and then do things."

As Google continues to winnow and merge its broad services, "they seem to be heading on a path to be much more like Oracle or Microsoft" in terms of more closely defining their markets, Kusnetzky said. "I think they'll look at it as though it will be inconvenient for some customers, but not for that many customers overall" since the services weren't as widely used as the company hoped they would be. "And it will save them lots of money for costly services that aren't bringing in enough money. Google is being run more today by business managers than in the past."

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