Google Continues Product Purge

Google shutters Flu Vaccine Finder and Google Related, and ends Patent Search as a separate website, in ongoing trimming of services.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

April 20, 2012

3 Min Read

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Google says it's doing "spring cleaning" by closing services, but the company has made product pruning an ongoing activity since Larry Page became CEO a year ago.

To hear Page explain it, the impulse to close disappointing products has something to do with "putting more wood behind fewer arrows." The best thing that can be said about that metaphor is that it's more appealing than his personal hygiene metaphor: Google's goal, he has said, is "to create services that people in the world use twice a day just like a toothbrush."

The latest casualty list arrived Friday.

"Making changes to products or services is hard, but we do need to maintain our focus if we are to do important things that matter in the world," said Matthias Schwab, Google's director of cloud services, in a blog post.

How hard it is? Not hard enough to prevent Google from terminating more than three dozen products, services, and APIs last year.

[ Learn about the products Google shuttered last year. Read Google's Graveyard: Dead Products Of 2011. ]

In the latest round, Google is closing Google Flu Vaccine Finder, the company's vaccination-locator; Google Patent Search, a site specifically designed for finding patents; and Google Sync for Blackberry, an app that allows BlackBerry devices to sync data with Google.

With these three services at least, alternatives are available. Google is suggesting that those seeking flu vaccine information consult HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder. Google has added patent search to and plans to make its integrated patent search options even better. And BlackBerry users can turn to BlackBerry Internet Service or the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Other services are being eliminated without alternatives. Google Related, an experimental Chrome extension and toolbar feature that provided searchers with references to related topics, will be retired in a few weeks. Google OnePass, a payment platform for online news publishers, is being shut down--evidently no one wants to pay for online news. Picasa for Linux and two Picasa plug-ins for Mac users--Picasa Web Albums Uploader for Mac and Picasa Web Albums Plugin for iPhoto--are being discontinued.

Despite years of insisting that the Web is the platform of the future, Google is also shutting down the mobile Web app for Google Talk and is advising users to try the native Google Talk app on Android or other XMPP-compliant apps on other mobile platforms.

Google is also deprecating--declaring intent to end support at some future time--a handful of APIs and shifting to a one-year deprecation policy for APIs. The company previously had a three-year deprecation policy for some services. Services now under a one-year API deprecation policy include Google App Engine, Google Cloud Store, Google Maps/Earth, and YouTube.

APIs being deprecated include the Moderator API, the Legacy Portable Contacts API, parts of the Account Authentication APIs (ClientLogin, AuthSub, and OAuth 1.0), and Google Chart Tools. Non-current versions of the APIs for Spreadsheets, Contacts, Documents List, and Freebase are also being deprecated. And Google has declared that Finance API and Feedburner Administrative APIs, deprecated last year, will be shut down on October 20, 2012.

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About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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