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Google Cancel

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Yahoo has nothing on Google, not when it comes to running major projects into the ground. US Healthcare is a two trillion-dollar business, and Google admitted that they cannot hack it, when they annonced last month closing down Google Health (more power to Microsoft HealthVault).

Take another huge market, electric and gas utilities, where adoption of Smart Meters is well underway in California andhundreds of millions of installations are expected in a couple of years. So, Google is closing down their PowerMeter intiative.

Then there is Google’s participation in telecommunications (you know, making phonecalls). Close to a year ago they shut down GOOG-411, a free directory assistance service. Calling on Google Voice for free will close by the end of this year.

Google prides itself on providing dozens of APIs, which are ways for programmers to access Google’s data from their own programs. The Silicon Valley giant has so many of them in fact, that they have an API to discover other APIs. Yet, now that their Translate API did become very popular, the company will close it down by the end of the year.

Actually, the company has a long history of major projects going south. Google Wave was launched in 2009 and aimed to provide messaging and social medial features. A year later development stopped and the software was donated to the Apache Foundation. And before that Google shut down another batch of projects, notably Dodgeball, a mobile social network. Back in 2006 they shattered Google Answers.

So, what could be on the way out next? There is Google Buzz, a microblogging and messaging tool, that has been around for a year-and-a-half, amassed plenty of technical and customer criticism and got Google sued. Sidewiki, a 2-year-old web annotation site, was dubbed a “glorified comment system“.   Picasa, a cool Windows program for editing photos and an entry point into Google’s Picasa picture-sharing service, had not seen an update in close to a year.  Their Desktop Search utility has been dormant since May 2010.

Old-style business world wisdom said that an ‘800 pound gorilla’ company, like Microsoft or GE, can enter and eventually dominate  any market that is big enough for them to bother with. This may never been true, but last couple of decades in the technology field prove it particularly false, as the list above shows.

Mid-2012 update:

Google continues ‘spring cleaning‘ well into summer, with notable cancellations including older versions of APIs (including very pretty Chart .) Is it any surprise that support for platforms that Google wants to become obscure (Nokia Symbian, BlackBerry ),  or for major competitor products (Mac and iPhoto versions of Picasa) is diminishing? Latest round of cuts includes iGoogle, their method for individual customization of the main search page. That one’s a surprise, as there was no clear replacement announced, and it must have garnered many many million views a day.

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