Google cuts product range to focus on revenue generators

Search giant Google has shut down a number of products as it continues to focus more on streamlining its range to generate revenue, including one program for which it spent $50 million only one year ago.


The move comes after the company began streamlining the free time each employee receives every week to work on any project they choose. The new direction is being attributed to chief executive Larry Page, who has already publically stated he wants to start focusing more on fewer product areas instead of a wide array of different, unfinished projects.


“Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features,” senior vice president Alan Eustace said in a statement. “All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products.”


But while Google said in the post the changes will make things easier for users, it also comes at a cost. Aardvark, a type of social question and answer service, was bought in 2010 reportedly for $50 million. The acquisition was reportedly finalised more for staff, rather than the technology itself.


“While Aardvark will be closing, we’ll continue to work on tools that enable people to connect and discover richer knowledge about the world,” Eustace said.


In a letter to users, co-founder Max Ventilla said the company will be shutting down services by the end of September, although users who want to download their data will be able to do so.


“We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+.”


“In this and other projects at Google, the Aardvark team remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.”


Google+ has been cited as one major project area where Page intends to devote a significant amount of resources.


Just weeks ago Google also announced it would be discontinuing a number of products made by social gaming company Slide, which it originally bought last year in a deal reportedly worth around $US180 million.


Reports indicate the widespread nature of these cuts indicate that Page is quite serious about getting the company focused on three areas: search and ad products, consumer products such as Android and Chrome, and innovation-focused products such as commerce and Google+.


A number of other products including Google Desktop, the program that allowed users to search their own computer, content browsing software Fast Flip, and the Google Maps API for Flash.


Google Pack, Google Web Security and Image Labeller will be shut down, while Google Notebook, which allowed users to combine URLs and share them, will also be discontinued, along with Sidewiki.


Subscribed Links, which allows developers to create specialised search results added to normal Google search results, will also be discontinued. However, Google says that developers will be able to download their data before September 15.


This latest move comes just months after Google announced it would be closing down Google Health and Google Powermeter.


The ultimate goal is for Google to make its overall ecosystem easier for users to understand by having a smaller number of products, rather than a number of experiments that don’t actually produce revenue.


“This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products – the ones that improve the lives of billions of people,” said Eustace.


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