Is there any doubt that things at Google have changed under new CEO Larry Page? Today the company has announced the impending closure of Google Labs, its experimental playground where many popular Google products were born.
In its announcement, Google says the decision to shut down Google Labs is part of its new focus on product efforts:
While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead.
The announcement is extremely light on specifics — no date is given for the shutdown, and little is revealed about what will happen to specific projects that are currently in Google Labs.
In many cases, this will mean ending Labs experiments — in others we’ll incorporate Labs products and technologies into different product areas. And many of the Labs products that are Android apps today will continue to be available on Android Market.
Several well-known Google products are still in Labs, such as Google Correlate and Google Squared. Others have graduated from Labs to be important parts of the Google search experience — personalized search comes to mind as one example. Google News “fast flip” was also a Labs experiment.
A Google spokesperson was unable to share any news on specific Labs projects, but told us via email that specific product labs won’t be affected by the shutdown:
There won’t be any immediate changes to in-product experimental channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We’ll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products, even as we move to retire the Labs name.
In his recent statements during Google’s earnings call, Page talked about the company’s focus on streamlining product offerings:
Greater focus has also been another big feature for me this quarter–more wood behind fewer arrows
Last month, for example, we announced that we will be closing Google Health and Google PowerMeter
We’ve also done substantial internal work simplifying and streamlining our product lines
While much of that work has not yet become visible externally, I am very happy with our progress here
Focus and prioritization are crucial given our amazing opportunities
Google’s announcement invites users to keep an eye on GoogleLabs.com for future updates about today’s news.