Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 22 revealed its latest round of product cuts in its effort to streamline operations, announcing end of life dates for the failed Google Wave real-time collaboration platform, Knol crowdsourced encyclopedia service and Friend Connect social widget tool.
Unveiled to raucous applause at Google I/O in May 2009, Google Wave attracted exponentially more hype than users, even after the service was opened to the general public.
The service let users send emails and text messages and share files, including the ability to edit documents in real time. Google stopped development on Google in August 2010, though users could still create Wave sessions and share them.
Google now said Wave will become read-only and users will not be able to build new waves on Jan. 31, 2012. Google will turn it off for good on April 30. Users will be able to export single waves using the PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off.
Knol made its debut as a potential Wikipedia in 2007, allowing users with expertise in a variety of subject areas to contribute detailed articles on topics they’re well-steeped in. The service never gained much traction and ultimately floundered.
Knol will work until April 30, 2012, and users can download their knols to a file and/or migrate them to WordPress.com. Knols will no longer be viewable as of May 1, 2012, but will be able to be downloaded and exported. Knol content will no longer be accessible after Oct. 1 next year.
Introduced in 2008 as a half-hearted answer to Facebook Platform Website tools, Google Friend Connect let Website publishers easily add social features to their sites by embedding a few snippets of code.
Google is shutting off Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. Google urged Friend Connect users to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site to continue to share.
Other Google Products Getting the Ax
A few other little-used, nonstrategic products are also getting the ax.
Google Gears, the tool Google created to enable offline access to Gmail, Calendar and offline Web apps, is nearing end of life as the company transitions to HTML5.
Google stopped supporting its Gears browser extension for creating offline Web apps and stopped supporting new browsers last March. On Dec. 1 this year, Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will stop working across all browsers. Shortly after that, Gears will no longer be available for download.
Google Bookmarks Lists, an experimental feature for sharing bookmarks and collaborating with friends, will cease working Dec. 19. However, all bookmarks within Lists will be retained and labeled for easier identification, while the rest of Google Bookmarks will function as usual.
The Google Search Timeline, a graph of historical results for a query, has already been removed. Google noted that users will be able to restrict any search to particular time periods using the refinement tools on the left-hand side of the search page; try Google Trends; and access Google Insights for Search for data created since 2004.
Finally, Google is nixing another green venture. Following its shuttering of Google Power Meter, the company is closing Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal. RE<C was created to decrease the cost of renewable energy by improving solar power technology.
“At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this research to the next level,” explained Urs H??élzle, senior vice president of operations and Google Fellow, in a blog post.
Google published its results to help others with the work. Google is still big on solar energy, building its own solar-powered mirrors, and has invested over $850 million in green technology.
These latest products cuts represent the fourth round of product shutdowns since Google CEO Larry Page took the helm from Eric Schmidt in April. The late Apple founder Steve Jobs advised Page to focus on doing about five things really well and get rid of the rest.
Google search, YouTube and Google+ are among the keepers, after Google cut Google Health, its whole Slide business unit and several other disparate Web services.