Celebrating Google Wave, Other Past Google Failures

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-08-06 Print this article Print

So Google Wave is on life support, as many of you must have seen if you follow Google as closely as I do.

In the spirit of taking up Google CEO Eric Schmidt's claim that Google "celebrates our failures" (newly minted in the department of positive executive spin), Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan couldn't resist using Schmidt's comments as a leaping-off point to enumerate the other Google Web services it has shuttered.

Most of them -- Dodgeball, Jaiku, Notebook, Lively -- were part of a raft of closures Google made in January 2009, not long after Schmidt himself told the Wall Street Journal he was looking to curb the dark matter at Google.

Sullivan proceeds to opine what might be shuttered next, including Orkut, Google Knol, Sidewiki and Google Buzz.

I think Orkut is here to stay ... unless Google launches the Google Me social network as it's rumored to be planning, armed with its newly acquired Slide and partnership with Zynga.

Popular in Brazil and India, Orkut has been around for like six years without gaining traction in the United States. Wouldn't Google have shuttered it by then? No, but Orkut users could be ported to Google Me when it launches.

Knol is toast with things like Hunch and Quora gaining momentum. Sidewiki is a little-used sideshow.

Google Buzz has tens of millions of users and will be a major part of Google Me. Altimeter Group's Jeremiah Owyang agrees, telling me today that Buzz could be used to extend Slide and Google Docs over time. Google Me will carry Google Buzz.

Sullivan lists 11 failed Google Web services and products, which at other places not named Google would be a lot of misses.

No worries. Google's success in search and now Android, which is shipping on some 200,000 phones today, is providing a nice one-two search-ad-and-mobile-ad punch to keep Google in the black for years.

Unless, of course, everyone decides to make Facebook the crux of the Web universe.

Also read: this Slate interview with Google Research Director Peter Norvig, who says errors are as inevitable for engineers as death and taxes are for the rest of us humans.

Okay, he didn't really say that. You get the idea.

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