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April 19, 2007

Changes in the Names of Google's Products

Google's shopping site has been rebranded from the catchy-but-not-very-clear Froogle to the simple-yet-boring Google Product Search. "You may be familiar with our product Froogle (a pun on "frugal"). Froogle offers a lot of great functionality and has helped many users find things to buy over the years, but the name caused confusion for some because it doesn't clearly describe what the product does," laments Marissa Mayer on Google's weblog.

"The ill-named Froogle was a problem from the start. "I don't think we understood the complications with rolling out another brand," Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search product and user experience, said in an interview with CNET "While it was a cute and clever name, it had issues around copyright and trademark, as well as internationalization. The pun (to "frugal") isn't obvious.", realizes Google five years after product's launch.

Google has a reputation of launching products with long and unattractive names that have the advantage of being very descriptive (Google Blog Search tells you more about the product than Technorati, but it's also less memorable). Some of the exceptions to the rule were: Gmail, Froogle, orkut, AdWords, AdSense, but also acquired services/products like: Blogger, Picasa, YouTube, which kept their original name.

Another change that should happen pretty soon is replacing "Google Personalized Homepage" with "iGoogle", the name behind the URL With the addition of presentations and wikis, "Google Docs & Spreadsheets" should better choose a different name than "Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and Wikis" (what about Google Docs?). Also "Picasa Web Albums" is a long and strange name for a photo sharing service and could easily transform into "Google Photos".

Google has a very strong brand and should include that brand in the names of their products, but that doesn't mean there's no room for creativity or consideration for people who actually have to remember or type those names.

(On a related note, maybe Google Operating System is too long as well. But, hey, I'm not a Google property.)

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