Google is making some changes in how people shop online using its services.
First, Google is shutting down its stand-alone Google Shopper app on Aug. 30 as it transitions users to shop online using the browser-based Google Shopping for search on desktops or the Google Search app on mobile devices, according to a July 26 post by Sameer Samat, vice president of Google Shopping, on the Google Commerce Blog.
The idea is that Google wants to reduce the number of competing services it offers to do the same activities, such as online shopping.
“We want to focus our efforts on Google Shopping and Google Search, to create a better, more consistent shopping experience across all devices,” wrote Samat. “To help us focus on that goal, we’ll be shutting down the stand-alone Google Shopper app on Aug. 30.”
Instead of accessing the stand-alone Google Shopper app, users will be able to “search directly on Google (or use the Google Search app on mobile devices) or visit google.com/shopping in any browser,” wrote Samat. “Our best features are there: you can compare prices, shop on the go, find a product in stock locally, check out product photos, read reviews or find product details.”
Google Shopping will feature more than 1 billion products from more than 100,000 sellers, according to Samat. The service has added 10,000 new merchants and marketplaces in the past three months, he added.
Google is making this move because each week an increasing number of people are doing their searches and buying using mobile devices, he wrote. “And many of these people are looking for product information; 76 percent of shoppers use the Web to research purchases and 57 percent of people use mobile devices to help them shop smarter.”
The stand-alone app was no longer needed because other Google services and apps do a better job to serve customers, he wrote. “We want to give you the best answers quickly, regardless of the device you use. We’ve worked hard to make it easier for you to find the product information you need, whether you’re at home or on the go, using Google Shopping and Google Search.”
Google has already unveiled several new services that have improved online shopping and related product searches, he wrote, including 360-degree product imagery, Shortlists and more relevant reviews.
The decision to drop the Shopper app is certainly not unprecedented. For the last several years, Google has been purging lesser-used products and streamlining its offerings as part of annual “spring cleaning” rounds that have ended a host of apps and service, including the shutdown of the Google Reader RSS service this past July 1. Google began its housecleaning projects in 2011. Other services that have been ended include Google Building Maker, Google Cloud Connect and Google Voice App for BlackBerry.
Google also recently announced that it is dropping its Google+ Local app for iOS, which had allowed users to find stores and restaurants located near them in their local neighborhoods, according to SearchEngineJournal. The stand-alone Google+ Local app for iOS is being dropped on Aug. 7 because much of the app’s functionality has now been built into the latest Google Maps for iOS app, which was recently revamped and released. The demise of the app was announced by Google in an email from the Google Maps team, according to SearchEngineJournal.
Google Shutters Shopper, Google+Local App for iOS
The search giant has been tweaking its Google+ offerings for months as it continues to try to grow its user base and make it a must-visit destination for consumers who are already deeply entrenched in more mature social networks, including Facebook.
In March, Google released reworked versions of its Google+ apps for Android and iPhone users, adding several improved features for photos, posts, user profiles and user communities. Highlighting the iPhone app improvements were photo-enhancement features from Snapseed, which allow users to perform basic edits such as rotating and cropping images, as well as using photo filters on their images before sharing them with others.
In February, Google+ unveiled app improvements that made it easier for users to access their other online iOS and Android apps more seamlessly and quickly through a new Google+ sign-in feature that allows users to tie their Google+ sign-in process to the sign-in processes for their most-used non-Google apps on their desktops or mobile devices.
Google+ has been around since June 2011, when it was started by the company as an online offering to compete with Facebook, or at least to give Google a piece of the social networking pie. Users were able to share events and news online with others in their “circles,” then connect with others in their friends’ circles, too.
In December 2012, Google introduced deeper social media features for its Google+ service by adding online communities where people can meet, discuss and share their passions on a wide variety of subjects, from sports to collecting to cooking and more. The new online communities included all kinds of interest groups, from cars to books to gardening and more. The communities can be set up to be open to anyone on Google+, or they can be private groups closed to the general public.
In August 2012, Google+ added some innovative tools for enterprises to try to bolster the appeal of Google+ for business users. The new Google+ features added the ability for business users to control who can see their posts on Google+, video conferencing that’s integrated with other Google Apps, and new administrative controls over posts.