Google Prunes 10 More Products From Portfolio

Google has been chopping away at its product lineup this year, first killing Google Labs and then merging Google App Engine into a single offering and doing away with App Engine for Business.

And this week Google will cut 10 more products from its roster, some of which the search giant paid big bucks for just a few years ago.

"Technology improves, people's needs change, some bets pay off and others don't," wrote Alan Eustace, Google senior vice president, in a blog post detailing the product cuts. Eustace called the whittling away of products a "fall spring-clean at Google" and referred back to Google CEO Larry Page saying the pending purge was coming on Google's last earnings call.

On the July earnings call, Page said Google was refocusing and simplifying its product efforts in a bid to put "more wood behind fewer arrows."

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"We've also done substantial internal work simplifying and streamlining our product lines," Page said. "While much of that work has not yet become visible externally, I am very happy with our progress here. Focus and prioritization are crucial given our amazing opportunities."

According to Eustace, Google will shut down and merge a host of products in coming months, a move the company says will ultimately benefit users.

"This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products -- the ones that improve the lives of billions of people," he wrote. "All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products. As for our users, we'll communicate directly with them as we make these changes, giving sufficient time to make the transition and enabling them to take their data with them."

First, Google will kill Google Pack, a downloadable software suite that Google launched at CES 2006 and included anti-virus, Google Chrome, Picasa, Skype and other "essential" PC software. "Due to the rapidly decreasing demand for downloadable software in favor of web apps, we will discontinue Google Pack today," Eustace wrote, adding that users can still get software from Google and its partners through direct links on the Google Pack Web site.

Google also put its desktop search software, Google Desktop, on the chopping block, a sign that Google is putting more eggs in the cloud computing basket. "In the last few years, there’s been a huge shift from local to cloud-based storage and computing, as well as the integration of search and gadget functionality into most modern operating systems. People now have instant access to their data, whether online or offline," Eustace wrote. Google Desktop will be discontinued on September 14 along with all associated APIs, services, plugins, gadgets and support.

NEXT: Google Web Security, Aardvark Going, Going, Gone

Google Web Security, a malware protection and policy enforcement tool that Google added with the Postini acquisition in 2007, is also a goner. Google said it has integrated much of the product's functionality into existing Google products, including safe browsing in Chrome. While new sales of Google Web Security will halt, Google said it will continue to support existing users.

And while Google will continue to focus heavily on social search and other social tools, it is deep-sixing Aardvark, a social networking search company Google acquired in February 2010 for an estimated $50 million. "While Aardvark will be closing, we'll continue to work on tools that enable people to connect and discover richer knowledge about the world," Eustace wrote.

And Google Fast Flip, an offering launched in 2009 that let users flip through bundled and aggregated news stories and related content on the Web or a mobile device, will be laid to rest. Wrote Eustace: "For the past two years, in collaboration with publishers, the Fast Flip experiment has fueled a new approach to faster, richer content display on the Web. This approach will live on in our other display and delivery tools."

Along with those products, Google also plans to cut the Google Maps API for Flash; Google Image Labeler, a "game to help people explore and label images on the Web"; Google Sidewiki, a collaborative Web product; and Subscribed Links, which enabled developers to create specialized search results. Meanwhile, Google Notebook, a play that let users combine clipped URLs from the Web and free-form notes into documents, will be killed in coming months, and all Notebook data will be automatically exported to Google Docs.

According to Eustace, the cutting of products won't halt Google's continued innovation or development of new offerings.

"We've never been afraid to try big, bold things, and that won't change. We’ll continue to take risks on interesting new technologies with a lot of potential," he wrote.