On its blog yesterday, Google officially announced the shutdown of several applications, notably the Google Mini, an Enterprise search tool; Google Talk Chatback, which "allowed websites to embed a Google Talk widget so they could engage with visitors"; Google Video, which stopped taking uploads in 2009 and is now seeing its final days before eradication (if you still have something up there, you have till August 20 to "migrate, delete or download" your content -- anything that remains will be moved to YouTube as private videos); iGoogle (which will shut down on November 1, 2013, so don't get much more attached to it. In fact, stop using it now lest you weep uncontrollably when it goes blank), and the Symbian Search App, which was geared toward mobile clients.
Explained the good folk at Google:
"Technology creates tremendous opportunities to improve people's lives. But to make the most of them, we need to focus -- or we end up doing too much and not having the impact we strive for. So last fall we started a spring clean, and since then we've closed or combined more than 30 products. Today we're announcing a few more closures."
Commenting on the product shutdown, Tim Worstall, writing on the Forbes website, agreed, only in a much more writerly, eloquent manner:
If we were business writers (and we aren't), we couldn't have put it better ourselves.
"One of the things that we know, but prefer not to make too public, is that we're pretty sure that command economies don't work: that competitive markets do. Yet we're aware, and this is the bit we don't like admitting too much, that the companies, the actors in those market economies, are themselves command economies. The bosses do after all tell everyone what to do.
What Google seems to be striving to do is make the company itself as much like a market participant as it can. A continual experimentation with new ideas, that 20% of a Googler's time for their own undirected projects, then throw them out there and see if they work or not. If they do, all well and good: if they don't then kill them when it is obvious that they haven't.
And it's that last bit which is the most important. Yes, sure, innovation is good. So even is copying other successful things: nothing like a bit of competition to stop monopolies arising. But the thing about market economies is the ruthlessness with which they kill failures: rather like the environment and evolution in that sense. Google is being ruthless at closing down those things that do not work, saving energy and resources to put behind those that do."
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