Google Graveyard 2013
Alas poor Reader, I knew it well
By Bob Brown | Network World US | Published: 12:02, 28 November 2013
One of the great things about Google is that it supplies us with a seemingly never ending list of products, many of them free. One of the most maddening things about the company, though, is that every once in a while it kills off a favourite. Here's a look back at more than a dozen products killed off by Google in 2013.
No Google end-of-life decision this year got as much attention as the company's killing off of the Google Reader RSS reader in July. The offering, which had been around since 2005, had a devoted if shrinking following, some of whom took to the web with online petitions and pleas across social media and forums. Some Google Reader supporters blamed Google's infatuation with Google+ on the decision. No shortage of alternatives emerged seeking to catch Google Reader users on the rebound.
The personalized home-page portal, around since 2005, is slated to meet its end on Nov. 1, 2013. This isn't a case of Google giving users short notice either, having announced the plan in July 2012: "With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time, so we'll be winding down iGoogle on November 1, 2013, giving you a full 16 months from the announcement to adjust or easily export your iGoogle data."
In with a new Google Maps app for Android and eventually iOS devices, out with the Latitude location-sharing service, which isn't part of the new maps app and was retired from older versions in August. Latitude debuted in 2009. Google is pushing users toward location-sharing services in G+ now.
The death of Google 20% Time, that perk of spending a fifth of your time at the company to work on side projects, could be greatly exaggerated. This isn't one of those things that Google killed off in a public blog post. Plenty has been written this year about Google's ditching the 20% Time Rule and innovation dying with it, but the consensus seems to be that Google had to put more structure around this given the company's size and growth.
OK, this Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy set at Google did get "killed" by a lot of critics, but not all the reviews were bad.
This idea is still half-baked perhaps, but it's been widely reported that Google is looking to nix cookies as its method for tracking web users on behalf of the advertisers that fuel the company's revenue. Google is said to be working on an anonymous identifier to help advertisers get their content in front of the most appropriate consumers.
Google announced in March that this tool, for making 3D building models in Google Earth and Maps, would be retired on June 1. Users can still snag their 3D masterpieces from a warehouse and Google has alternative tools in Maps and Earth to soften this blow.
This plug-in was designed to help people work in the cloud by automatically saving Microsoft Office files from Windows PCs in Google Drive. But Google would rather have you install Drive on your Windows PC, or for that matter, on Macs, Android devices and iOS devices. Cloud Connect went "poof!" on April 30.
GOOGLE VOICE APP FOR BLACKBERRY
Kicking BlackBerry when it's down? Google this year announced it was ending support for this app and has directed BlackBerry users who want to keep using Google Voice to use Google's HTML5 app instead.
GOOGLE SYNC (Consumer version)
This offering was designed to allow consumers access to Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts via the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, but with Google's release of technology called CardDAV, the company now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV. As for Jan. 30, users were no longer able to set up new devices using Google Sync, but existing Sync connections still will work. Google Sync only has one foot in the grave, however, as the business version remains alive and well.
Launched in 2011, Google Catalogs was billed as a greener way to shop -- via tablet computers rather than paper catalogs -- at retailers such as Nordstrom and L.L. Bean. But apparently this Android and iPad shopping app didn't result in enough green for Google, because it discontinued the app in August. You can still get to the catalogs via a desktop browser though.
Google's Yelpish guide to businesses/restaurants debuted in July of 2012, having been rebranded from Google Places, which was introduced in 2011. But even a name change didn't save this iOS app, which like others had its usefulness marginalized by enhancements to Google Maps. Google pulled the app from the App Store in August.
Google announced in July that it was putting the kibosh on its standalone Google Shopper apps for iOS and Android, and would instead steer users to employ Google Shopping and Google Search to find what they're looking to buy.