Google has just announced the closure of several well-known products, including Fast Flip, Sidewiki, Aardvark and Subscribed Links.
Some of these are part of the ongoing purge of Google Labs products, while others that are being shut down were not part of Labs. And Google has also announced that other Google Labs projects have “graduated” out of labs and survived the chopping block.
Confused? Here’s a recap of what’s coming and what’s going.
Google Fast Flip
Fast Flip launched in 2009 and offered a more visual, print-like way to view news on the web. The story goes that Google’s Larry Page wondered out loud why the web isn’t like a magazine — he wanted a way to browse it. Thus, Fast Flip was born.
In a letter to participating publishers, Google says Fast Flip will be removed from Google News and Labs “in the next few days.” Publishers will be contacted within the next month with confirmation of their final advertising revenue payment.
Another 2009 launch, Sidewiki let web surfers comment on pages that they’d visited. It required users to install the Google Toolbar and turn on “enhanced” features. Comments would pop-out from the side in a separate panel.
Sidewiki is shutting down, and Google says users will “have a number of months” to download their comments/content.
Google acquired Aardvark in early 2010. It’s a social search service that was created, ironically, by former Google employees. Users could ask Aardvark a question, and the service would search for the right person in your network to provide the answer. It was named one of TIME’s best websites of 2009.
According to a post today on Aardvark’s blog, the service will be shutting down at the end of the September. The blog post also includes instructions for Aardvark users who want to retrieve their past data before the shut down.
Started all the way back in 2006, Subscribed Links let webmasters create custom links that users could add to Google’s search results. It was adopted pretty quickly by some prominent sites, but never grew into anything more than a niche product. With the growth of Google Sitelinks — which are now showing as many as 12 per site — Subscribed Links seems like overkill to a degree. Google obviously thinks so. Susbcribed Links will shut down on September 15th.
Survivors From Google Labs
Some Google Labs projects have survived the chopping block and Google has now listed them as “graduated” on the Google Labs website:
- Fetch as Googlebot is graduating from Labs to its permanent home in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Flu Trends will remain available at www.google.org/flutrends.
- Google Reader Play will remain available at www.google.com/reader/play.
- Julia Map will be released as an open source project soon and remain available at julia-map.appspot.com.
- Google Swiffy has graduated from Labs and soon move to a new domain.
- Indic Music Search will remain available at www.google.co.in/music.
- Google Moderator will remain available at www.google.com/moderator.
- Google Transliteration will remain available at www.google.com/transliterate.
Other Product Updates
Google’s blog post offers details on the future of a number of other Google products.
- Google Image Labeler, a game in which users helped Google understand images by tagging them with keywords, is shutting down. No date is given.
- Google Desktop is shutting down as of September 14th.
- Google Maps API for Flash is being deprecated, but Google will continue to support Premier customers.
- Google Pack is being shut down today.
- Google Web Security – the sales channel is being discontinued, but existing customers will be supported.
- Google Notebook will be shut down “in the coming months.”
Personal aside: Having now written a handful of articles over the past month about the various projects that Google is shutting down, I can’t help but think how many times those of us inside the search industry thought some of these would “change the game” in some way. Sidewiki and Subscribed Links both saw a lot of hype when they were launched as having a potentially huge impact on SEO. Fast Flip and News Timeline were mentioned as possibly having a big impact on online publishing. But our perception and the reality of public adoption (or lack thereof) is often not the same. That’s worth keeping in mind as Google — and other companies — rolls out new products and experiments in the future.