Google kills several projects, looks to future

Yesterday, Google announced they were "laying off" several low-level projects and one Web app they had purchased in 2005. There are a few interesting twists to this story, but I tend to agree with Larry Dignan that it is not a sign of the apocalypse and that the real core of the company will emerge. Some of these projects should probably never have been green-lighted. The one that sticks out the most is Dodgeball.com, which Google acquired in 2005. I remember writing about the service for EGM back in the day, wondering at the time what it really was. Touted as a location based service for finding your friends, it seemed more like a "meet-up" service than anything. I will leave you to wonder what that might mean. From any angle, the acquisition seemed oddly Yahoo-like. The Mash-Up Editor is getting axed in favor of people using Google App Engine. Honestly, I never understood the idea of mash-ups in the first place. You either have an app or you don't. When you "mash" two of them together, things will probably get broken. For example, let's say one of the "mashes" is a bus schedule, one is a mapping program, and one of them is a service for sharing bus route tips. Now you have three databases to maintain. If one gets broken, the whole app will break. Google Notebook is a more legitimate app, but it is getting annexed. I think the problem with this one is that there are so many Web 2.0 apps and utilities (say, the one from Circus Ponies) that all filling the need here. And, I also have a theory that any app meant to replace a physical object has to be so easy and intuitive that any sane person would use it instead of the alternative. Google Notebook never made me want to chuck my pen and paper. The strangest one is that Google will no longer support uploads to Google Video. This is like discontinuing life-support on a hamster and saying the hamster will live a happy life. It's just a matter of time before everyone realizes that Google Video was already dead, about four years ago. Google Catalog Search is also getting the boot, with about as much fanfare as a hamster race. None of this is earth-shattering, and I don't think it's a sign of the economy as much as Google realizing (like I have been doing lately) what really should get the most attention. The company is not suffering for cash flow -- their advertising has a permanent foothold on the Web, and more people use Google for searching than any other portal by far. It is a sign that the "anything goes" mentality is fading. We're not in a dotcom bubble, and we never were. Tech companies are just riding on the wave of the economy like every other industry, and Google is just doing a little bit of nip and tuck.

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