Google Video began suffering from neglect as soon as Google bought YouTube in 2006. By early 2009, the service was put on life support when it stopped accepting video uploads. It continued to dwindle while YouTube thrived. For more than two years, it's been clear that Google Video's days are numbered.
Google finally made the obvious official last week when it sent Google Video users an email message announcing that hosted video "will no longer be available for playback" as of April 29. The company has temporarily added a download button to the video status page to allow Google Video users to save local copies of Google Video files. The download button will be available until May 13.
After all hosted video is removed, Google says that Google Video will become a video search index.
"We've always maintained that the strength of Google Video is its ability to let people search videos from across the Web, regardless of where those videos are hosted," Google's letter explained. "And this move will enable us to focus on developing these technologies further to the benefit of searchers worldwide."
Unfortunately for Google, its ability to let people search videos from across the Web is likely to end at the border between the Web and Facebook, which has found it advantageous to keep Google out of its walled garden. Competition between the companies is particularly evident in the video arena: Both YouTube and Facebook have recently begun delivering live video content, in addition to hosted videos.
Google's decision to remove hosted content from Google Video has sparked an effort by a group called the Archive Team to rescue the endangered content and preserve it for posterity. The group's Google Video wiki provides details about how to help.
Google is also eliminating tags, a way for businesses to market themselves through yellow tags added to Google Places listings. The fee-based advertising service is used by tens of thousands of businesses, according to Google. The company says it will work with work with local businesses in the coming weeks to help meet their marketing needs through other Google services.