Hot on the heels of the axing of Google Sets, the internet prediction service, Google has now announced that it is to close a further 10 of its services over the course of the next few weeks. It might seem drastic to be taking such action at the moment, but the search giant seems untroubled. Some critics have seen these closures as a sign of weakness, or at least a tacit admission that all is not as clever as it might appear. Google for its part is bullish, referring to the move as merely a bit of ‘spring cleaning’. So what’s going on? What’s the reason for these closures?
Google claims in its blog that it constantly updates its services and has always been keen to remove those services it sees as either under-achieving or past their sell-by-dates. So which ‘inefficient’ services is it referring to? The list is long and extensive and includes Aardvark, Desktop, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Pack, Google Web Security, Notebook and Sidewiki. Any company providing search engine marketing services might also be surprised to learn that the search giant will also stop using Image Labeller and Subscribed Links to assist with its results pages. Image Labeller was at one time a popular game which helped to add keywords to images on the web: Subscribed Links allowed companies to produce custom search engine results pages for those who subscribed to their own SERP feed.
A statement on the Official Google Blog confirmed the forthcoming closures, but tried to re-assure users that this wasn’t an end in itself: more a new beginning in which it would devote more and more of its resources to those products and services that delivered real value and impact. It stated:
“Technology improves, people’s needs change: some bets pay off and others don’t. We’ve never been afraid to try big, bold things and that won’t change. Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features. This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience.”
“It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products—the ones that improve the lives of billions of people. All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products. As for our users, we’ll communicate directly with them as we make these changes, giving sufficient time to make the transition and enabling them to take their data with them.”
“We’ve never been afraid to try big, bold things, and that won’t change. We’ll continue to take risks on interesting new technologies with a lot of potential. But by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience.”
In spite of these reassurances, many experts remain sceptical. They see the move as a smokescreen, clouding what is actually happening at the company. According to IT Pro Portal, many experts believe the main motivation for these changes is an increased emphasis on Google+, Google Offers and its acquisition of Motorola. Google denies this of course. Who is correct? Only time will tell.