Google CEO Larry Page is in a pruning mood. In a “spring cleaning” last week, Google killed five products, most prominently Google Reader, and began phasing out two APIs.
mass killing of products was in September, when the company killed off
eight products and began phasing out two developer interfaces. Since
assuming CEO duties in April of 2011, Page has worked diligently to
bring more focus to Google.
But the company retains an almost comically broad set of initiatives,
ranging from self-driving cars to high-tech glasses to (multiple)
social networks to mobile handsets and (multiple) operating systems –
and everything in between. If Google sees a beloved, impactful, but less-than-blockbuster product like Reader as something to prune then there’s plenty more brush to clear.
Here are five obvious candidates. I’d hate to see some of these
products go, but they seem at risk given Google’s current priorities:
Google TV: Google’s television platform, designed to bring YouTube, Google Play, and web surfing to your living room, was originally forecast
to produce $3 billion in annual revenue. Google has not disclosed how
far short of expectations Google TV has fallen, but it’s clearly not a
success. Reviews were generally poor.
After horrific sales of its Google TV gear, then acting CEO of Logitech
Guerrino De Luca told analysts that developing a set-top box for Google
TV was “a mistake of … a gigantic nature.”
Google Groups: Google’s hub for online discussion
groups is widely regarded as superior to the competing and once dominant
offering from Yahoo, but that’s not saying much. Google Groups has the
stink of neglect about it. Serious online groups tend to move off the
platform and into custom-coded websites, vertical community platforms
like StackOverflow, or adaptable open source solutions like Discourse and phpBB.
Once upon a time, Google Groups’ archive of old Usenet
postings was a boon to the company’s flagship search engine. But those
days are long gone. Advertisers aren’t particularly interested in the
content of Google Groups, so it’s hard to see why Google will keep it
Blogger: When created by Evan Williams in 1999,
seven years before Williams co-founded Twitter, Blogger was bar none the
easiest way to create and maintain a blog. But the world has moved on.
Rival network Tumblr has social features that vastly outmatch Blogger’s,
while WordPress is much easier to customize and has a robust
development and design community supporting it. As with Google Groups,
the only reason Google may want to keep Blogger around is to preserve
the old content and avoid a PR backlash. But Google could easily put a
freeze on new blogs and posts.
Google Offers: Google launched this Groupon copy in
2011 after Groupon turned down an acquisition offer. Since then, both
Groupon and its rival Living Social have struggled badly, but Google’s
knockoff hasn’t been able to capitalize on their woes.
Google Apps: Bear with me. Yes, Google Apps brings in a reported
$1 billion in annual revenue. The collection of server-based
productivity apps is also at the vanguard of Google’s efforts to woo
corporate IT departments into cloud-based computing.
But the estimated revenue from Apps is only about 2 percent of
Google’s annual sales. And each new paid subscription to Apps pulls
Google deeper into customer service, at which it is terrible and which
its pampered staff of engineers so obviously does not want to provide.
If Google is trying to become a more focused company, why bother trying
to sell software and support to finnicky megacorps when it could obsess
exclusively about defending (from the likes of Facebook) the advertising
business that provides the overwhelming majority of revenue?
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