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11/29/2006
01:37 PM
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Google Questions Google Answers

Google shuts down service, which was getting beat badly by Yahoo Answers.

Google questioned Google Answers and, finding no explanation for its continued existence, decided to close the service down.

The Internet search juggernaut offered no reason for its decision, beyond implying that some experiments don't yield the desired results. "Google is a company fueled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time, and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product," Google software engineers Andrew Fikes and Lexi Baugher explained on the Official Google Blog.

A clearer justification for the decision can be seen at Google Trends: Yahoo won. Yahoo's competing service, Yahoo Answers, appears to be substantially more popular with searchers than Google Answers.

Internet metrics firm Hitwise has posted a similar chart that makes Yahoo Answers look like Mt. Everest compared to the flatlined Google Answers and Live QnA, Microsoft's recent entry into the human-driven query space. "At present, Yahoo Answers is over 50 times the market share [in visits] of the new Live QnA and 24 times of Google Answers," noted Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, on his company's blog.

Google's decision to close the service fits with its recent "features, not products" initiative, an effort to refocus the company's engineering resources on improving services that already have some traction rather than investing in less directed innovation.

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