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The Google Cemetery: Top 5 that bit the dust

The Google Cemetery: Top 5 that bit the dust
Death by Google

Google is one of the greatest technology firm is the world and an essential part of modern day life that has permeated intot he fabric of society so deep that once can’t imagine what would happen in Google search engine was not working suddenly one day.

Google Buzz Logo
Buzz failed to create a buzz

But for every Google Search,  Google has two Wave, for every Gmail, they have 5 Buzz, products that were so bad that they are long forgotten. Though credit (or lack of credit) to them, they every now and then come up with a product (like Google Reader) which create a new niche of following and passionate fans.

We take a look at the top 5 defunct Google products that was either loved or hated the most.

5) Google Talk

Google Talk Logo
Talk used to be the talk of town.

No one remembers Google Talk (also known as Gtalk) nowadays, but back in 2005 when Gtalk was launched, it nearly killed Yahoo! Messenger.

Gtalk which had over 300 million users at its peak, was much loved for its smooth interface, compatibility with multiple platforms, including browsers, desktop, and mobile. And the fact that it was integrated with several Google products like Orkut and Gmail.

Why did Google Talk fail?

To be fair, Gtalk wasn’t totally shut down, instead, in 2017 it was replaced with Hangouts. But it has never been the same and its popularity has continuously dwindled since, which forced Google to focus on enterprise clients rather than the general consumers.

The primary reason for Gtalk’s failure was the emergence of mobile-only messaging and social apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat etc. While WhatsApp and similar apps focused on sending messaging in 2G and 3G speeds, the Gtalks connection & reliability problems made it a dinosaur.

4) Picasa

The Google Cemetery: Top 5 that bit the dust 1
Picasa ahead of its time

Picasa used to be one of the best image organisers for the desktop, it has integrated photo sharing, editing and adding of filters in 2004 in an era when there were no smartphones and selfies wasn’t a thing.

Perhaps that is the reason why Picasa was never truly appreciated. Picasa worked across web browser, desktop and mobile.

Why was Picasa discontinued?

Picasa didn’t really fail, and is one of the most underappreciated applications made by google. It was discontinued for desktop and eventually replaced by Google Photos.

While Picasa was ahead of its time Photos is an also ran, with Apple provider similar services, among several such Photo storing and sharing applications.

3) Orkut

The Google Cemetery: Top 5 that bit the dust 2
Orkut was as big as Facebook

We have to talk about Orkut. Back in the late 2000’s, Orkut was “the social media” with dominating presence in some regions like the Indian Subcontinent, and Latin America. It’s userbase used to be as large as Facebook. In fact, in India & Brazil it was the most visited site.

Though Orkut failed, its scrapbook type interaction was widely popular and the number of scraps used to be shown as a proof of popularity.

Why did Orkut shut down?

Orkut’s demise was slow and painful, the main cause of Orkut’s failure can be attributed to Facebook, but it wouldn’t do justice to the immense failure on Google’s Part to evolve the platform.

Orkut was always catching up with Facebook on all fronts. It had various security issues from hijacked accounts, to malwares being transferred. I suffered from privacy issues will all images uploaded being accessible to everyone regardless of if they were their connection or not. But the biggest problem it faced was fake profiles, the proliferation of adult content, and combined with slow and almost non-existent moderation meant it became wildly unpopular as people were attacked at will on the platform and reporting them didn’t help. All of these reasons combined in a mass migration fro Orkut to Facebook on the turn of the decade in 2010.

Within 4 years, in 2014, Google decided Orkut would be no more.

2) Google Reader

Google Reader
Google Reader

Google Reader is a classical example of Google’s greed, lack of foresight and imagination.

Google Reader was a RSS & Atom feed aggregator. Extremely useful for someone who wanted news or posts from several websites as it enabled them to see everything in one pane and then device if a particular news was worth reading.

It had a passionate fan following, so passionate that you will still need then lamenting on what could have been if it wasn’t shut down.

Why was Google Reader discontinued?

In one word, greed. Greed got the better of Google, in order to free up their engineers time from engagement which wasn’t a direct money making enterprise, Google decided in 2013 that it will discontinue Google Reader.

The official reason cited by Google was “dwingling users”, but this was is hugely contented by the passionate fans.

Regardless, it was lack of foresight, as several money making alternatives have popped up in its absence since.

1) Google+

The Google Cemetery: Top 5 that bit the dust 3

Google+ had to be number 1 on this list. It was launched with a lot of fanfare and touted as the Facebook killer and for some time it did well.

It was Google’s fourth attempt at social networking after Orkut, Buzz, and Google Friend Connect.

And for a brief period of time, it did threaten Facebook’s dominance. Google+ features like Circles, group instant messaging, its seamless integration with text and video chat application Hangouts, events, location sharing, ability to upload and edit photos, etc., were ahead of Facebook at the time. So much so that there are reports of lockdown at Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg, asking the employees to bring Facebook’s features on par.

What happened to Google+?

Google+ failure is the amalgamation of everything wrong about Google.

Google made Google+ the identity and authentication layer across all of the Google’s product. If you wanted upload a video to YouTube, you had to create a Google+ account. If you wanted Gmail, you were concurrently signed up for a Google+ account.

This made Google+ grow in terms of the number of users, but the active users were nowhere comparable. The arrogance of Google in this regard didn’t help, but the fact is, in a social network if 50% of the friends that a user has, has been signed up automatically it will lead to a lower interaction and dormant profiles which eventually led to Google+’ demise.

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Google converted Google+ into an identity proof, and it became an idenity proof only as evidenced by two metrics, a) 90% of a user session was less than 5 second duration b) it had only 10% active users.

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