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July 20, 2011

No More Google Labs

Google's blog announced a surprising decision: Google Labs will be closed. It's not April Fools' Day, so it can't be a hoax.

"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. 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," explains Google.

It's all about focus and prioritization, the same reasons why Google Health and Powermeter were discontinued last month. Google's CEO, Larry Page, says that Google will focus on the core products (search and ads), on the products that "enjoy high consumer success" (YouTube, Chrome, Android) and on some new products (Google+, Commerce, Local).


Google was all about experimentation and launching new projects early to get feedback and iterate. Google Labs was the place where many of the most important Google services started: iGoogle, Google Maps, Personalized Search, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Groups. Right now, there are 56 Google Labs products and many of them are really useful: Google Body Browser, Google Scribe, Fast Flip, Android App Inventor, Aardvark, Google Goggles, Google Moderator, Google Code Search.

While Gmail Labs, Google Maps Labs, TestTube will continue to exist, it's sad to see that the service that showcased Google's latest innovations will disappear.

23 comments:

  1. Will they all be +Labs now? Otherwise, this is a bit of a bummer. Some great ideas (even if they're not good enough to graduate) will no longer be available for us to play with.

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  2. Does that mean that all 56 lab products will be gone? or will they be moved to some other place?

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  3. I hope they move them somewhere else rather than just get rid of them all. Google Swiffy was just announced 3 weeks ago.

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  4. noooo ... What about gmail labs?

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  5. Sometimes they seem to be quite crazy. I mean, it appears that at Google they have a lot of creativity but periodically they have to pass this kind of self-mortification&self-fustigating process. It happened few years ago with other services which were not widely adopted and is happening now again. But this time will be much more permanent. Few years ago I thought it was some kind of saving-money driven decision, I mean due to the foolish believe in classical economy superstitions, but now I am thinking it's something deeper. There is something rooted in Google corporation both at psychological level and organizational level, I mean that they very much use this scheme: create new products, do not do anything for promoting them among people in a coherent way, the projects are not widely adopted, they say that because they were not widely adopted they HAVE TO discontinue them.
    This stuff is all driven by google itself, which means by some people in the key places in the corporation. I guess that all the projects that will be closed will be the projects that, since the beginning, didn't appear as very useful or tasty to those big guys... (or big Guy, if it is one alone, but aristocracy would a little bit better then monarchy...).
    Anyway what will happen now, is that a lot of experimentation will become much more secret and top-down controlled, Google will become less and less transparent, and finally less and less creative and innovative, I will call it a process of "Microsoftization"... or maybe a process of "Applization" in which creativity will be kept but it will almost entirely depend on the person at the top AND every kind of strategy will be used to cage you in that unique system both hard and soft.
    And if you link this with the process of facebookyfication taken with google+ were decisions about data exposure are made buy google and not buy you, as facebook uses to do... well this becomes a very
    gloomy picture...
    Google was a little hope that even a Big Company can do it with respect to people and creativity, but now it becoming evident that there is no way to have that. There is no way that a Big Company can think first to the care of it's customers and people than to it's own vision and profit, and in particular that all of this "free" services are coming to a price which is much higher than few adds on some kind of side-bar, they are coming at the price of our homologation.

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  6. WOW something very very strange is going on Google. Killing Labs is a bad idea IMHO.

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  7. Nooooooo, they are taking away their coolness.
    Google+ seems to be kind of nice, but some of the reason why Google appealed to me was the fact that they seemed to be this creative bunch of people that enjoyed making cool projects and share them with their users.

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  8. So does this mean the marketing droids have taken over from the engineers within Google?

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  9. Feels like a betrayal. Google has offered so many promising services, whetting our appetite, having us spend our time testing them in hope they would become better and better, only to find out that they have been culled by Google without any good explanation. Google Notebook (http://www.google.com/notebook/) was perhaps the most incomprehensible example, but the list is long, ending now with Google Toolbar and now Google Labs...

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  10. WTF!! What the wrong with Google? Yesterday it was Google Health and Google Power, today Google Labs And tomorrow??
    Why Google is closing it's service closing one by one??
    I gonna miss my SMS Channel's over one lak subscribers:(

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  11. Thanks for the free fun, Google! I've had a blast with Lab stuff for years. Whenever I'm sad, I'll console myself with your Google Earth, Street View and Docs...your other amazing free gifts to me! Thank you so much. If you need to focus up, do so knowing that you have many fans who look forward to the new magic you'll all create. Love you, trust you, thank you.

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  12. While my knee-jerk reaction is disappointment and concern about the change, the more I think about it and the half-finished major projects I'd rather they focused on getting things finished with Google Apps and Profiles integration. The longer Google+ goes without full support (for business/organizations or Apps support) the less likely it will have staying power.

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  13. The only product from Labs that I've use is Scribe. Luckily Gmail Labs will remain. I think Google would have been dumb to remove it also.

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  14. ... disapointed ...
    I always found out some interesting things in Google labs..
    I think they just need to focus their teams on more profitable activities/products.
    Labs were just about experimentation and creativity on the free time of their staff... now it's time to work..
    :-(

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  15. Their blog now says, "To clarify: we don't have any plans to change in-product experimentation channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We'll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products."

    Phew! Gmail labs are cool! Don't want to lose those!!

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  16. SAD DAY !!! :(

    Google seem to sacrify all his creativity and all things that make Google different from others company... to push Google+ and become a "look alike" Facebook or M$$oft !

    Shame on Google !

    :(

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  17. Will the Google Analytics Labs remain, and especially the Data Export API and its Data Feed Query Explorer?

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  18. This single announcement has done more to undermine my confidence in Google than any other. It is a signal that Google, like Microsoft is taking themselves way too seriously.
    There has been a not so subtle shift lately at Google which has resulted in less thoughtfulness and quality control in new features (Gmail's "new look") and far less attention to correcting problems (notifications in GCalendar.) Google seem to be moving more towards the traditional Microsoft view of things in "take everything you can squeeze out" and away from the old Google view of "give everything you've got."
    I think a lot of the confidence that people had in Google was based on the perception that 'Google was Good,' fighting for the things that the individuals and society wanted, and not just want the financial investors wanted.
    Google explored many new avenues of using the internet in many exciting and often thoughtfully unique and useful ways. The loss of Labs means that Google is headed the same direction as Microsoft... into a mire of complex and unmanageable products that only because of the sheer volume of use survive as they complicate and degrade the quality of electronic life.
    I for one lament the loss of yet another altruistic ideal: Google is no longer Good, but Google is Going Gurgle, Gurgle down the Drain.

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  19. Google might be in rut these days. They've been under-performing lately and its not good for their users. We so expect so much from you Google. I hope they do better soon.

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  20. .....and so it goes

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  21. OH shit what about SMS labs...!!!

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  22. I cant see google docs lab preview anymore it is gone! and so is sms preview in my email. WTF GOOGLE!?

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