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Google Plans End Of iGoogle

Google continues its product purge, with five more products getting the axe.
Google on Tuesday continued amputating products and services as part of its "spring cleaning" campaign, a move that has prompted a deluge of complaints in the iGoogle support forum. Having already shut down more than 30 products and services since starting its purge last fall, Google is eliminating five more.

Four are unlikely to be missed. Google is discontinuing its Google Mini search appliance, a rack-mountable search server for businesses that sells for $2,990 to $9,990. Google will stop selling the Mini at the end of July "because its functionality can be better provided by products like Google Search Appliance, Google Site Search, and Google Commerce Search," said Matt Eichner, Google general manager of enterprise search, in a blog post.

Google doesn't disclose the price of the Google Search Appliance, the post-steroid version of the Mini. When it did, the device started at $30,000. The company's decision to drop the more modestly priced Mini appears to reflect its interest in promoting cloud-based services over on-premises software and hardware, at least among small businesses where traditional IT is less entrenched.

[ For more on Google's housecleaning, see Google Continues Product Purge. ]

Google is also eliminating Google Talk Chatback, a widget that allows websites to embed the Google Talk interface. Google is encouraging users of the Chatback widget to try an installable toolbar from Meebo, which it acquired in June.

Google Video, closed to new video submissions since 2009, is finally being euthanized. Users have until August 20 to migrate, download, or delete their videos. After this date, Google will archive Google Video content on YouTube as private videos.

Google's Symbian Search App is being shut down. Eichner encourages Symbian users to use mobile web search instead.

Finally, Google plans to close iGoogle, its personalizable home page, come November 2013. The company introduced iGoogle in May 2007 when it was still trying to figure out social computing. At the time, Google saw iGoogle as a way to make search and advertising more relevant through personalization. Marissa Mayer, VP of search products and users experience at the time, described iGoogle gadgets as "a new unique form of advertising."

Perhaps that new form of advertising didn't work out, or perhaps iGoogle didn't fit the Google+ social mandate. According to Eichner, the availability of apps that run on Chrome and Android has "eroded" the need for iGoogle.

iGoogle's many users don't see it that way. A discussion thread presently numbering almost 1,000 posts in the iGoogle support forum disputes Google's reasoning and chastises the company for encouraging users to move to other services.

"I don't understand the rationale," wrote an iGoogle user identified as Mark. "Chrome runs apps, so that make iGoogle outdated? That is like saying my TV shows movies, so we should close the grocery store. iGoogle is my home page, full of bookmarks, news, weather, and customized info that I have lovingly developed and improve on every day. Whenever my browsers open at home or at work, they open to iGoogle. And you think it would be good if I changed this to Yahoo? I hope you can be persuaded to change your minds."

If Google remains committed to abandoning iGoogle, there will be several million people who may consider alternatives like NetVibes, Feedly, and My Yahoo.

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