Google has moved leaps and bounds during the past 15 years to become the largest online conglomerate in existence. Not only does it have a wide array of features that grows every day as it expands to new technological concepts but it also owns popular websites like YouTube. It has even recently created Google+, its latest attempt at a social networking site to rival Facebook and Twitter.
But Google+ was a long time coming in social networking after a list of beta trials that didn’t quite work out. Concerns of privacy, hacking scandals and even just lack of interest managed to kill off more than one project. There were also many others that stuck around for a long while but were eventually dropped as new ideas took their place.
These 10 Google projects are some that made it off the ground but are now dead â€“ some that died too soon and some long after they should have kicked the bucket.
1. Google Answers
Older Internet users will remember the days of the question-and-answer sites. Of course, they are still around but in a very different format than they once were. In April 2003, Google opened up its own version of the Q&A. It would allow users to ask questions and pay researchers themselves to find and provide in-depth answers.
But other websites began to pop up that were free and user-based. So when Google Answers shut down in November 2006, it was more of a shock that it lasted a full three years. There were no plans provided to relaunch it in the future, and it was clear that it was well and truly gone for good.
Since then, Google has bought Q&A service Aardvark. However, next to nothing has been done with it, and it looks like it might be yet another elephant graveyard.
2. Google X
March 15, 2005, is the date a mystery began that is still going years after it was yanked from the web. Put up with next to no hype, no explanation and no real reason, Google X lasted a single day.Â If you look at the mirrors on the web of the site, such as on The Place For It All, you will see that it is extremely similar to Appleâ€™s Mac OS X operating system user interface.
That, and the fact that it was no different in use from its original engine, was probably the reason that the next day it was removed and never seen again. Which poses the question: What was the point?
3. Google Lively
In July 2008, Google tried its hand at 3-D multiplayer games. Google Lively was, basically, a platform similar to popular sim Second Life, and it was actually a fair beta.
Created by Niniane Wang, it might have done OK if it continued to work on maturing and promoting it. But on Dec. 31, 2008, the New Year was brought in with the sound of an axe. Google Lively was chopped, and 2009 started with a ton of brand-new concepts.
4. Google Notebook
On Jan. 14, 2009, Google ended a service that was actually fairly popular. Google Notebook worked by allowing users to take “clippings” from other online sources and keep them all in one file, or “notebook.” This file was fully customizable and could be easily organized as well as accessed from any computer through your Google account. You could also share and collaborate, which made it good for many businesses at the time.
But in an interesting development, you can now use Notebook again. All you have to do is go to its main page, and you can use the newer interface. No updates on the application seem to be coming in the future, as far as we know.
5. Google Catalogs
It was clear back in 2001 that Google began running its catalog service, and it wasn’t until Jan. 14, 2009, that it shut it down for good. What was amazing about Google Catalogs is that hardly anyone seemed to know it existed.
Unlike its shopping feature that allows you to compare prices with direct links to sellers, this one was a separate search engine that ran through hundreds of American catalogs. You could then contact the store with the appropriate buying procedure.Â Sometimes it was online, but usually, it was via phone or mail.
But catalogs barely even exist anymore, and most mailing material is nothing but advertisements. With online shopping more convenient (as well as cheaper) there is just no reason for catalogs, which is why Google finally pulled the plug after eight whole years of providing a service no one wanted.
It was the first of many projects to be stopped that year.
6. Google Print Ads
On Jan. 20, 2009, Google ended a 2-year-old project that most people could see would be a disaster from the first day. Google Print Ads was just what it sounded like: the selling of print ads in various newspapers and publications. Google would rent out space it had purchased to customers, which would have been a great idea â€“ a decade ago.
In an age where print is dying fast, with newspapers moving more toward paid digital formats or sponsered free content, you would think Google could have avoided the mistake. After all, itâ€™s the largest Internet empire; it should have known which way the wind was blowing. But a desire to expand into the real world led to a misstep that cost Google time, energy and money.
7. Google Shared Stuff
Google Shared Stuff sucked. It sucked the day the beta was unofficially launched, and it sucked on Feb. 25, 2009, when it announced it would be cutting the project short. It never even made it to a full version, and it was so badly made that it couldn’t even be used properly. That was despite the fact that it was a simple service used to bookmark videos and Knol articles.
What was amazing was the notice in the press release from Google. It told users that if they wanted another way to share videos they could use the helpful little share buttons under each clip on YouTube. Or, of course, they could just provide a link. Itâ€™s amazing that the geniuses at Google didn’t think of that before trying to create Shared Stuff.
8. Google Wave
Collaborative editing applications are getting bigger and bigger. They allow people in and out of the office, or even across seas, to work together on projects by signing into a shared file and editing as they go. This has both pros and cons, but ultimately, it is seen in the business world as a great idea that is used quite a bit.
On May 27, 2009, Google created Wave. But the company did things like they always do in beta form: It made it invite-only. The invites were also very selective, and very few were released. This caused one major problem: People can’t collaborate if they are not all on board. So it flopped like crazy.
That is why on August 4, 2010, just a little over a year since its conception, Wave was shut down to new updates. Not that anyone cared. It was then bought and renamed Apache Wave.
Even though Google had that setback with the invite-only system, the company still used it for Google+. However, Google made the invites user-controlled, which might have helped this time around â€“ that and the high school and college students who wanted a social networking site their parents weren’t on.
9. Google Health
When the announcement came on June 26, 2011, that Google would be shutting down its Health application, there were many tears. People ripped their garments from their bodies, shouting their pain into the heavens for all to hear. Alright, not really â€“ no one noticed because no one knew that Google had a Health feature. If they did, I bet they wouldn’t use it.
The idea was that you put all of your health information (illnesses, symptoms, weight, medical history, etc.) into this platform. You then stored it all in that one place. This was supposed to help you to stay fit, find information, manage diseases and keep things for your medical professional when you went to the doctor.
It was also supercreepy. Who would just throw their medical history onto an application like that? Especially with Google, which freely gives search, email and even location information to anyone who asks? Isn’t it bad enough that it has Google Earth?
Apparently, the â€œimpact wasn’t broad enoughâ€ to continue. I bet that is code for â€œpeople didn’t want to tell us about their colonoscopy.â€
10. Google Video Player
You have probably used Google Video. It might have provided both success and frustration for you. It was far from complete and was as biased as its web search (even more so), but it has been there since 2005. Or it was, until Google announced on Jan. 28, 2011, that it was cutting it off.
This was pretty much expected. Google has YouTube, and so its video search had pretty much become yet another way of looking for YouTube clips. Hardly anything else came up, if anything at all. Keeping it going would have been a pretty pointless thing to do.
These are only some of the dead Google projects out there, as the company seems to come up with a new idea once every 14 seconds. What are some of your favs?