Blog Post

Google’s product pruning continues unabated

It’s been over a year since Google CEO Larry Page promised to get his teams more focused on fewer projects. And boy has he: In the last 12 months Google(s GOOG) has shut down several dozen products. He’s not done either. On Friday afternoon the axe was brought down on on three more products, as well as some of the company’s official blogs.

In an official blog post written by Director of Engineering Max Ibel, Google said it’s doing away with Google Apps for Teams, Google Listen and Google Video for Business.

Apps for Teams is shutting down in exactly a month, on Sept. 4. Current users will be converted to standard Google Accounts. Google Listen, a podcast search and discovery feature, was made redundant by the Google Play app store. Google says Listen is not going away entirely, but after Nov. 1 the search function will be disabled. Video for Business is shutting down “this fall,” but any video stored there will be moved to Google Drive. Google’s being nice about it though — those hosted videos won’t count against those users’ storage limit in Google Drive.

It’s also planning to prune its count of official blogs. Ibel writes that there are 150 that the company currently uses — they’re going to pare that down to an as-yet-unnamed number.

Cue the outrage from users who rely on Google Listen, or whose company’s process relies on Apps for Teams. It’s happened every time the company has announced closures — and it’s up to around 40 or so in the last year. Google doesn’t just chop away at unpopular products (see the anger over iGoogle or Google Labs) nor is it sparing ideas it spent $50 million on (Aardvark).

Of course, while Page may be pruning, he’s making room for planting new, ambitious projects as well. Under his leadership after all, we have seen such products that are obvious winners for the company like Google Drive and Google Compute Engine, things that are core to the company’s mission and play to its information-finding and processing strengths.

But we’ve also seen risky entrees into areas like augmented reality with Google Glass and living room hardware with Nexus Q. And after an “indefinite delay” announced earlier this week, the latter looks like it’s already on its way to being the subject of one of these product shutdown announcements in the future. So even as Google is cutting products in an attempt to “focus,” it’s also just freeing up resources for taking new risks.

7 Responses to “Google’s product pruning continues unabated”

  1. John Dingler, Analyst

    Can Page shut down Bush’s and Obama’s demonstrably failed Iraq and Afgh. wars please, pretty please? Put the money into new programs, getting them off the ground right inside the US.

    People say that the so-called “defense” industry is hugely profitable for the US’s GDP, yet no one has explained why the industry can’t simply be moved into infrastructure which, you know, its new discoveries can become high demand items world wide, as high in demand as weapons.

    Just do it. Do it now.

  2. Foxnet2

    New signups for the Team Edition had been discontinued some time ago. Supporting a free edition of Team IMO, is no longer a true focus for the Google product team. Companies with 10 users or less can migrate to the Google Apps Standard edition or for more than 10, purchase the Business Edition.

  3. Mr. Bee

    I would point out the obvious which is that shutting down projects that have failed commercially is not the same thing as “focus.” Focus is not spending your resources on a project doomed to failure in the first place.

    I think this is probably what Erica is saying, but in a much kinder way.

    • Bob Denny

      Mr. Bee – When you are a pioneer, by definition you cannot “know” what projects are “doomed to failure”. NO one can. The definition of an adventure is a journey with an uncertain outcome. What Mr. Page is doing is cutting those projects whose uncertain outcome wasn’t good enough. That takes guts. All too often, in the hands of bureaucratic leadership, every project gets a life of its own, builds political clout, and simply becomes a long term welfare project if it fails to become a market success.

      Your logic is not “obvious” to me anyway…

  4. Myles Crouther

    Has anyone noticed that Google Now looks similar to iGoogle and brings all the important information had. You just can’t choose which information stays and organize it.