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The Google Graveyard
August 18, 2010 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Let's take a walk through the Google graveyard.
posted by Joe Beese (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fun to read while playing spooky music.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 PM on August 18, 2010


Let's not forget whatever the hell they were doing with Google Images up until a few days ago.
posted by jamjam at 10:13 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post from Fake Steve sums up Google's experimentation with humour. Point five in his list still makes me smile.

The post writes off Chrome. At the time that was true but now Chrome has overtaken Safari on a number of the browser usage statistics compilations.
posted by sien at 10:23 PM on August 18, 2010


They forgot the Nexus One.

*punts obsolete but attractive phone*
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:23 PM on August 18, 2010


The "Google Answers" bit starts out with "Google's answer to Yahoo Answers" which is stupid because it preceded Yahoo's copycat site by several years.
posted by mathowie at 10:28 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eh, not every batter up to the plate manages to hit the ball every time, let alone scoring a run. Google is still tops in search, and the options page is still loaded with plenty of stuff I use every day. Seems sort of like bad sportsmanship to harp on their strike-outs like this.
posted by crunchland at 10:39 PM on August 18, 2010


Google Answers was great. I'm disappointed the cut it, as the overhead for keeping it alive couldn't have been that great.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:39 PM on August 18, 2010


*waves*
posted by pompomtom at 10:39 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when are they going to add the current version of Google Images to that? I've had to switch to Yahoo! Image Search to cope, and it feels like I'm cheating on someone.
posted by katillathehun at 10:43 PM on August 18, 2010


The changes to gmail are more upsetting than the changes to Google Images.
posted by Cranberry at 10:59 PM on August 18, 2010


Yes, it's a shame they killed off Google Answers. I still run across cached Google Answers pages during my searches and find them useful and informative (unlike Yahoo Answers pages which are basically worthless, or worse)
posted by Auden at 11:19 PM on August 18, 2010


Google does internal surveys where employees nominate projects for axing. I thought that was neat.
posted by ryanrs at 11:38 PM on August 18, 2010


Yeah, the ugly-making they did to Gmail is rather baffling. The checkbox column isn't even wide enough to hold the checkbox. On Windows, in Firefox. No one tested for that?
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:42 PM on August 18, 2010


The checkbox column isn't even wide enough to hold the checkbox. On Windows, in Firefox

Er, not for me (3.5.9, Win7).

UI changes are always tough, some % of users will never like them. And of course some are almost-universally hated. But unless it's a fully-skinnable/customizable sort of app, there are always users who want things one way and those who want it the other. Google doesn't really do UI customization, so no way to change things without upsetting at least some users.

(Personally I like the gmail changes, was neutral on the news changes [on balance I think I liked it better before, but meh], and don't really use image search).
posted by wildcrdj at 11:49 PM on August 18, 2010


Why the hate for the new Images design? I'm loving it, and most of that love is coming from the fact that now when I enter a keyword, all I get back is images. On the old style there was what, maybe twenty images a page, with all the metadata underneath and whatnot. Now there's almost never the need to turn a page, and the pop-out preview gives me a better idea of the image without having to click (exhausting, I know.) A genuine improvement.

I'm also a fan of Wave, but like war, what is it good for?
posted by Chichibio at 11:58 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Google isn't careful, Search could become something like this, if it continues to get overwhelmed with SEO crap. Heaven help you if you try searching for something most other people might want to know about.
posted by JHarris at 11:59 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also a fan of Wave, but like war, what is it good for?

From the comments of several other people here, online roleplaying games.

What I don't like is that Google outright kills its experiments instead of letting them find legs. Wave may have been a product in search of a problem, but there is every indication that the problem is out there, somewhere, maybe just a few years down the road.

(The big exception to this, of course, is Google Labs' mascot project Google Sets. Now that may truly be useless, and yet I'd be at the gates with torch and pitchfork if they killed it now. I still like to go there every once in a while and play with it. But yeah, there's really no point to it. In fact, with all the work they must have put into Suggest, Google could probably redo it much better now.)
posted by JHarris at 12:03 AM on August 19, 2010


When I saw the title of this post I thought: Hey, Google's going into the mortuary business! (What worries me is that I didn't find this surprising...)
posted by chavenet at 12:12 AM on August 19, 2010


Wave may have been a product in search of a problem, but there is every indication that the problem is out there, somewhere, maybe just a few years down the road.

I thought the made it open source. So it's still better off than a lot of other cancelled or failed projects. They don't want to pay for ongoing maintenance, which is fair. But maybe, for example, someone can take it and focus it on online role-playing games specifically, and end up with a decent product.
posted by Gary at 12:32 AM on August 19, 2010


I love google sets and use it quite often when I need "more like this".
posted by Iteki at 1:26 AM on August 19, 2010


I thought the made it open source. So it's still better off than a lot of other cancelled or failed projects. They don't want to pay for ongoing maintenance, which is fair. But maybe, for example, someone can take it and focus it on online role-playing games specifically, and end up with a decent product.

They did make it open source, but they won't be providing an "official" implementation and server anymore. It'll become the kind of thing most people won't ever find out about, and even if they do they'll have to figure out how to run a server. It is putting Google Wave behind a solid barrier of obscurity to anyone with less than Tech Skill 6 (that's sufficient mojo to compile code).
posted by JHarris at 1:52 AM on August 19, 2010


The post writes off Chrome. At the time that was true but now Chrome has overtaken Safari on a number of the browser usage statistics compilations.

True, but outside of a handful of Apple diehards "Safari user" is another way of saying "doesn't know the difference between the web browser and the web page".
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:48 AM on August 19, 2010


This elicits a solid "meh" from me.

I like the fact that some Google projects fail. I think it's indicative of the company that they're willing to try stuff, and they're also willing to admit that the thing they tried didn't work. I look forward to upcoming google projects that may not work. It's a sign of creativity and health.

BTW - This same sentiment goes to Microsoft. I'm not sure about Apple. They've had their failures, (pippin, HiFi, Apple TV), but you get the feeling that they're not really trying to forge new ground.
posted by seanyboy at 4:13 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Google Notebook will never truly leave us, so long as there are those at Hogwarts using iGoogle who remain loyal to it.
posted by ZsigE at 5:08 AM on August 19, 2010


I can't believe they forgot to include Lively, another product I think they cut off too fast. The other day I was looking for an easy, colourful embedded chat option and realized that Lively would have been perfect.

Poor Lively.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:21 AM on August 19, 2010


Does anyone outside of South America still use Orkut?
posted by Toothless Willy at 5:24 AM on August 19, 2010


I like a good .jpg graphic designed to take swipes at a leading technology company as well as the next guy, but -

Google X - lasted one day in 2005, and it's listed here. Seriously? And was the date April 1, by any chance? Whether it was or not, this "product" seems more like a stunt someone whipped out in a few afternoons, possibly with their tongue firmly in their cheek, when Google was a much smaller company than it is now.

I would like to correct the statement about Video Player:

"Google No one has fared well at entering a market late unless it offers a clear improvement over existing products." (there was also a tense inconsistency in the original sentence, but my grammar Nazi uniform is at the cleaners.)

Some of these products (notably Wave and the anticipation of the Buzz- er, kill) are indeed semi-embarassing* flops, but several of these "failures" are merely earlier versions of something Google later enhanced. Including Page Creator and Notebook is like saying Microsoft killed off Office 2003 and Windows XP.


*if you hold the philosophy that a company should never try anything that might fail...
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:26 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Buzz is not dead. They added new features and API stuff just this week. Anecdotally, a segment of my friends and I use it quite a bit.
posted by melt away at 5:34 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when are they going to add the current version of Google Images to that?

Wait, people don't like the new Google Images? Why on earth not?
posted by ook at 5:41 AM on August 19, 2010


Why the hate for the new Images design?

It's as slow as hell? It actually hangs my computer for a few seconds and this thing has more processors than I have hands.
posted by DU at 6:12 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the new Image Search. It runs on my two-year-old computer without hangup, so apparently the moral here is that processors don't always mean computers working?

Although on my computer it loads 17 pages of images before asking if I'd like more results. I'm not sure why 17.

True, but outside of a handful of Apple diehards "Safari user" is another way of saying "doesn't know the difference between the web browser and the web page".

It's gorgeous, it does HTML 5 better than Firefox last I checked, and now that it's got extensions I can't think of a reason I'd want to switch to the bloated jizzpile that Firefox has become. I switched to Chrome before extensions, because Chrome in my mind is its equal in every way, but on OS X Safari's the only browser that uses, you know, the actual OS X framework and so has support for things like Command-Control-D dictionary support. Also Chrome occasionally has hangups with the frame it creates to simulate being Mac-like; nothing too bothersome but it makes Safari a slightly better option.

It bothers me that people feel the need to be elitist dipshits over something as useless as web browsing. It's not the name of your browser that matters. It's what you do with it that counts.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:48 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


They forgot the Nexus One.

*punts obsolete but attractive phone*


Obsolete? The N1 is the official android developer phone and is still I think the phone Google hands out to its employees. It's one of only a handfull of phones that has received the FroYo update (and it was the first). And I bet when gingerbread comes out later this year it will be the first model to receive that upgrade. Don't punt your attractive phone just yet!
posted by ekroh at 7:14 AM on August 19, 2010


Interesting topic, terrible article. A much more thoughtful piece on this subject is Danny Sullivan's Let’s Celebrate Google’s Biggest Failures!

It's important for companies like Google to have failures. They can afford to fail, but more importantly they need to take risks with projects that might fail. Fortunately, Google management gets it.
posted by Nelson at 8:02 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hah, Foursquare's predecessor was named Dodgeball? Cute.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the new image search design. Very dense with images only and a huge page that loads as I scroll down so I don't need to keep paging to look further down the result set.
posted by Babblesort at 9:21 AM on August 19, 2010


Provide people with a free service, and they'll still complain about it.
posted by crunchland at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2010


Google Web Accelerator was the worst. Its best screwup was that it would actually cache pages you had to log in somewhere to get, and feed them to other people later. Genius! I remember the scramble we had to update web servers after that news came out.
posted by rusty at 10:03 AM on August 19, 2010


No one has fared well at entering a market late unless it offers a clear improvement over existing products.

Not entirely true. See MS Word vs. WordPerfect. For a long time, WP was clearly better, but lost out to Word anyway.
posted by rusty at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2010


Lotus 123 was gobbled up by Excel the same way ... and I can't recall what improvements Excel made except that it came bundled with Word. And how about the differences between browsers?
posted by crunchland at 10:12 AM on August 19, 2010


Very dense with images only and a huge page that loads as I scroll down so I don't need to keep paging to look further down the result set.

Funnily enough, that's exactly why I hate it.
posted by katillathehun at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




My love for Google Sets borders on the obscene, like casual but frantic encounters between infrequent lovers.

I come to Google Sets with a need that mere search cannot satisfy. I throw a few items in to see what kind of response I get. I take the feedback and see what I get if I toss some of those same responses in but omit my earlier, tentative tries. I get results. I do this again and again, building bigger and more complete sets by finding just the one thing to leave off while many other inputs are entered.

Finally, I come to the fullness of knowledge after having exhausted us both in a rising fury of combinations. Then I sit back, light my pipe, and admire my handiwork.</swiss_tony>
posted by adipocere at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2010


I wonder what the Google ICU looks like.. you know, the projects that were announced, never left beta, and are just kind of hanging on. Or the projects that launched to rave reviews but actually have a pretty small userbase. I think that Google Voice was on that list, along with Talk and in reality, Docs. They have users but nowhere near the initial expectations or there were a lot of signups but a dwindling number of users that continued to use the service after 14 days. I recall reading something about Google Voice having a lot of initial users but far fewer frequent users.
posted by drstein at 12:57 PM on August 19, 2010


While some of these quips are funny, they are not accurate. Google Audio Ads was not killed due to performance metric issues.
posted by cavalier at 2:01 PM on August 19, 2010


Sorry, accidental submit there.

Google Audio was killed because Google was expecting their current ad customers to branch out into terrestrial radio ads if buying them became google interface friendly. They made it cheap and gave them incentives and they still did not buy. At least not in jaw dropping barrels of money buys. Google pulled back and decided to stick with online (streaming) ads as that's what their customers wanted from them. Your Cokes and Home Depots already had a robust infrastructure for buying radio -- they did not need Google.

I miss Google Answers :P
posted by cavalier at 2:14 PM on August 19, 2010


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