To become one of the most innovative companies in the world it is necessary to invest heavily in research and attract the best talent thanks to an innovative culture. But it is also necessary to know how to fail often, without too many remorse, accepting that sometimes what appears to be the next-big-thing are not at all. It is the approach of Google, whose history is studded with great successes as well as great failures, often spectacular and far from painless.
All experiences that could be archived as a fool (and some undoubtedly are), which however also demonstrate a enviable entrepreneurial courage and a sincere pioneering spirit. Here are 10 examples, among many: the Google services that have gone the way of the dinosaurs are so numerous that someone has even bothered to collect them in a real Google-cemetery.
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The service of cloud gaming, despite the wide appreciation of a niche of enthusiasts and professionals, it has not been able to adequately conquer the large audience of the videogame sector. It had to be the Netflix of video games, instead Google will shut down the servers permanently in January 2023reimbursing those who have bought hardware and games in the last 3 years.
At Stadia, the critics pointed out, there was no lack of technological innovations, as well as all the apparatus that determines the success of a service in highly competitive sectors such as videogames: exclusivethe great ones titles and above all adequate firepower in the marketing. Unlike others that have fallen into oblivion, Stadia’s is a failure that could have medium and long-term consequences, in particular on the trust that technology partners and developers will place in the next big Google-branded projects.
Google Glass, 2011-2015
Mountain View’s smart glasses were supposed to revolutionize the world of wearable computers, but they always remained an expensive toy in eternal beta, until the end of the experiment in January 2015. Privacy problems, doubts about driving safety and health effects are just some of the problems that have plagued the short life of the product, together with strong negative media coverage. What failed was not so much the device itself, but the methods of public experimentation chosen by Google for a product so complicated and difficult to communicate. Today there is a lot of talk about augmented reality glasses again, while both Snapchat and Facebook have brought similar devices to the market without receiving the same negative reaction from the Glass, suggesting that Big G’s product was just ahead of its time a bit.
Google Wave, 2009-2010
In an interesting attempt to unify social media, email and instant messaging flows, Google introduced Wave in 2009. The service was immediately criticized by users for the complicated interface and not very usable, which contributed to slow down its adoption after the initial enthusiasm. The bankruptcy was quick and relatively painless: Wave was closed the following year. In 2012, Google eliminated all residual data from the project.
Google Reader, 2005-2013
Reader was Big G’s online RSS reader: the service allowed you to subscribe to feeds from blogs and news sites and was completely free. Born in 2005 as a Google Lab projectReader was shut down in 2013, with a decision that sparked protests and controversy on the Web. Official reason for retirement: number of users who still used Reader was no longer sufficient to justify the allocation of internal costs and resources for maintaining the service.
Google Buzz, 2010-2012
Google can do many things very well, but social networks are not one of them. Buzz is perhaps the clearest demonstration of this. The meta-social linked to Gmail and other company services wanted to encourage the sharing of content on already established channels (such as Facebook or Twitter) but it was only a failure which, among other things, forced Google to shell out $ 8.5 million to close a class action on the alleged violation of the privacy of Gmail users.
Google Plus, 2012-2019
Google Plus is considered by most to be proof of Google’s inability to create a viable competitor to Facebook. It must be said that to make it work, Mountain View has tried them all, including the imposition of the social network as the only system for commenting on YouTube and the integration of the profile of the author of an online content in the search engine results. It didn’t help: despite the fact that there are more than two billion users (you just need a Gmail account to be formally a member of Google Plus), those who actively post content, according to the latest estimates, they reached a maximum of 6 million. In 2018, Google announced its definitive closure, scheduled for the following year.
The messaging app linked to Google accounts will be officially deactivated in November 2022 and replaced by Google Chat, not to be confused with GChat, also known as Google Talk. All of them should not be confused with Duo, which also offers some of the similar features, including video calls, which can also be made with Meet. If you got lost in the previous lines, that’s perfectly understandable, and that’s the reason why Google will retire Hangouts soon: put some order in messaging and videocall services with similar and often redundant functionality.
Google Answers, 2002-2006
In 2002 Google debuted a service called Answers. Anyone could ask a question and decide to pay between $ 2 and $ 200 for a detailed response and well researched. An interesting short-lived experiment, which was closed in 2006. To the way of crowdsourcing of knowledge, Google has preferred the algorithmic way, and today the Knowledge Graph integrated in the search results is able to answer (for free) many questions common without any human intervention.
Google Video Player
Video Player was a utility for PC and Mac for viewing videos downloaded from Google Video in .gvi format. A attempt to compete with QuickTime, VideoLAN (on which the first versions of the player were based) and other similar software, which nevertheless never met with great success. It was abandoned in 2007.
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Google Audio & Print Ads, 2006-2009
Between 2006 and 2009, Google attempted to extend its online advertising domain to press and to radio. Through Adwords, the tool used by advertisers to buy Adsense advertising, it was also possible to place commercials on the two traditional channels. The project never gave the desired results and Google closed it in 2009, returning to focus attention on advertising for the Web and mobile devices. Also in this case, the company had perhaps anticipated the times too much: a service of this type, in the new era of podcasts, could certainly have been more successful.