Google Graveyard

The list of the Google products and services that have gone on to become industry leaders is quite long; there is no doubt about that. But it’s also true that many of its products and services have failed too. In such cases, Google doesn’t hesitate to cut its losses. It is ultimately a business, after all. It only makes sense for a business to direct its resources toward the assets that have the most potential to generate revenue and align with long-term strategic goals. In this article, I’ll give you a tour of the Google Graveyard, with a look at some products and services Google has killed off through the years.

Following is a list of all the products and services that we’ll cover in this article.

  • The Google Clips Camera (2017-2019)
  • Google PowerMeter (2009-2011)
  • iGoogle (2005-2013)
  • Google Video (2005-2012)
  • Helpouts by Google (2013-2015) 
  • SearchMash (2006-2008) 
  • Google Reader (2005-2013) 
  • Dodgeball (2003-2009) 
  • Google Deskbar (2003-2006) 

Let’s explore them in detail.

The Google Clips Camera

Introduced in 2017, the miniature clip-on camera device was quite an interesting product. Incorporating AI, the tiny, wide-angle camera would automatically capture candid life moments, such as with children and cats (or whatever pet you have).

Alas, the $249 device was a niche product that never found its niche. It was pulled from the Google Store in October 2019. But if you are a fan of Google Clips, there is some good news for you. Google says it will support the device until December ’21.

Although Google Clips is dead now, the technology behind it isn’t, and it is incorporated into the Photobooth feature of Pixel 3 smartphones. This should warm Clips fan hearts knowing Clips didn’t die in vain. 

Google PowerMeter

Google.org (Google’s philanthropic arm) was behind this one. Launched in ’09, this software product was designed to help consumers track their home electricity usage in near real-time and even anonymously compete with neighbors for energy savings. The ultimate aim was to aid in a quicker rollout of smart grids.

Although the idea was not bad (one can even say that it was great), it may have arrived a little earlier. The green technology effort didn’t scale as hoped and didn’t help smart grid efforts, so Google ultimately focused on other projects. Google PowerMeter was killed in September ’11.

iGoogle

Launched in May ’05, it was first known as Google’s Personal Homepage. Two years after its launch, the name of this product was changed to iGoogle. It was a personalized, customizable Ajax-based start page or launch portal that supported interactive “gadgets,” mini-apps with custom news, calendars, games, and so on.

Unfortunately, like the previous offering, this one too has arrived before its time. As mobile applications and other tech burst onto the scene, users had personalized, real-time info instantly available. The need for iGoogle eroded, and it was finally laid to rest in November ’13.

Google Video

This product, introduced in 2005, was a free video hosting service similar to YouTube. Users could upload their videos and allow other users to view them either free of charge or for some fees. You had to download the Google Video Player (it ran on Windows and Mac OS X) to view a purchased video. 

The service failed to connect with users. Google ended up acquiring YouTube, and the Google Video service eventually shut off the ability to charge for videos. In ’11, Google further dismantled the service, removing all videos from it. In ’12, Google Video was replaced by Google Videos, a search engine for video files rather than a place to distribute them.

Helpouts by Google

This online collaboration service was created for paid (and unpaid) Google Hangout consultations. Users (called “providers,” could be companies or individuals) could share their expertise through live video. Sellers would list their offerings such as cooking, designing, and so forth, and buyers could search for general topics or specific questions.

The service wasn’t popular enough to justify its existence, and Google officially shut it down in April ’15. 

SearchMash

Basically, a sandbox for Google search experiments, SearchMash was launched in October ’06. Google used it to test new search technologies, concepts, and interfaces. 

The service was quietly ended in November ’08, and it wasn’t obvious why Google did so. SearchMash has “gone the way of the dinosaurs” is the only message users received when visiting the old website.

Google Reader

I can’t get over this one. An RSS/Atom feed aggregator, Google Reader, allowed users to manage feeds, label them, and search through them. It was better than its competitors in many ways, but the web evolved away from feeds and more toward social sharing. Google killed the product in July ’13, citing declining use.

Dodgeball

In ’05, Google purchased Dodgeball, a location-based social networking software provider for mobile devices. It allowed users to find friends’ friends, locate friends and interesting venues within a ten-block radius, and get alerts when “crushes” were nearby.

Although it was quite interesting and innovative (for its time), Google didn’t seem to dedicate enough resources toward expanding the coverage areas or features. It was available only in about twenty-four cities. Meanwhile, its competitor Twitter grew in popularity and was available almost everywhere.

The original Dodgeball founders Dennis Crowley and Alex Reinert left the company in ’07, and in February ’09, Google pulled the plug on the service.

Google Deskbar

A Windows application, Google Deskbar, allowed users to launch a Google search directly from their desktop taskbar. The reason Google killed this product was that another one called Google Desktop did that and more. But, unfortunately, Google Desktop was also killed in September 2011.

These days everyone has their browsers open anyway, and Google is just a click away.

That’s all, folks!