Why Google retires some products

By , Nov 6, 2012

You’ve probably witnessed one of Google’s spring cleanings when it retires a dozen or so popular services. Ever since co-founder Sergey Brin took the CEO role from Eric Schmidt, who is now Google’s chairman, the company has been dropping less popular services at a rapid clip. iGoogle? Gone. The ill-fated Wave? Killed off. Wonder Wheel? That too.

Newsflash: even Google has a finite amount of resources so some features inevitably get thrown under the bus along the way. Google’s Matt Cutts in the above clip lays out his company’s approach to managing products and explains the decision making process which leads Google to retire some service whilst continuing to invest in others…

The video is in response to a question by Chicago-based Aaron Friedman, who asked:

Matt, we often hear about Google “killing off” products. Why do you guys do this? Are you just being mean or “out to get” us SEOs? Sounds like there is something bigger going on. Could you please elaborate?

I like the part where Matt likens Google’s process to an exploration of sorts:

We wanna try out new things. Unless you’re trying things out, like if you’re trying to skii and you never fall then you’re not really pushing yourself hard enough.

One obvious problem with this approach: Google is now this Internet behemoth and whatever next service it comes up with, millions upon millions of people are going to try it out (hint: Google+) and potentially grow dependent on it.

That’s also millions upon millions of disgruntled users if the firm pulls the plug on the service.

But Google is not just a consumer play.

The search giant is fighting Microsoft for enterprise supremacy with its affordable online productivity suite, Google Apps.

So when huge companies take the bait and adopt Apps, they don’t expect that on a random day even the tiniest part of Apps might disappear because Google figured it’s no longer worth the effort.

This happens a lot in this industry and it would be unfair to only point the blaming finger at Google’s direction. Of course, Microsoft was quick to exploit the drawbacks of Google’s fast-paced nature with this funny ad.

My favorite part:

Q: And you still think this is ready to roll out?

A: How else are we gonna know what features to keep and what to kill?

I’m curious: did you use any of the services Google killed so far?

I was really excited about Weave becoming this interactive, real-time email replacement, so much that I invested significant amount of time and energy becoming a Wave expert.

Imagine my disappointment when the news arrived of Google dropping Wave because it “has not seen the user adoption we would have liked”.

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  • CollegiateLad

    ‘I was really excited about Weave becoming this interactive, real-time email replacement, so much that I invested significant amount of time and energy becoming a Wave expert.’

    A big fat LOL.

  • http://www.clubnokiard.com/ Frankie Bloise

    Same way as other companies kill products they don’t consider relevant or doesn’t go with the company upcoming path…

    Nokia with Symbian, Microsoft with the Zune player, Apple with the iPod classic, iTunes PING & the PowerPC powered computers…

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucas.kunert Lucas Kunert

    It’s not gone yet, but I’m a big fan of iGoogle and it’s really handy; I’m disappointed it’ll be gone in about a year. The alternatives just aren’t as good.

    • KikaidaO1

      Thanks Lucas! I thought iGoogle was gone as of Nov 1! My homepage changed back to the regular Google page, so I thought it was gone for good!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucas.kunert Lucas Kunert

        No, it’s still there. You just have to go to it manually (google.com/ig) — it’s being retired next November 1, not this Nov. 1 :)

      • woojoo666

        There are some great alternatives that are as good, if not better, than iGoogle
        netvibes is pretty nice. If you use chrome there are also some nice apps like jolicloud and “awesome new tab page”

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucas.kunert Lucas Kunert

        Yeah I’ve tried Netvibes but it’s just not as good. The big thing is missing the integrated Gmail. Nothing besides iGoogle can use that special version of it that I can click into and use inline.

  • Falk M.

    The only thing I’ll truly miss about iGoogle is the teahouse theme.
    Most adorable website theme EVER.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515360595 Ben Lloyd

    They kill products in several ways! They totally trashed Google Reader; never forgiven them for that!

  • Techpm

    Yes, Feedburner has turned into a zombie under Google’s hands. It was a very popular service too.

    I think it’s mostly due to how much Google expects to make from ads on the service. If there isn’t a good way to make money it gets kicked,

  • http://twitter.com/lgasparjnr laszlo gaspar

    I let these services get more popular and then I sign up

  • http://twitter.com/rickz97 Ricky

    Who isbthe singer btw??