Google’s product pruning continues unabated

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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 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.

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