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Internet firm focuses on new social network Google Plus by ridding company of 'inefficiencies.'

Amelia Riley Swan
  • 7 september 2011

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This article titled “Google+ launch: search giant closes 10 products” was written by Josh Halliday, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 5th September 2011 10.14 UTC

Google is to shut down 10 products, including the search company Aardvark, bought for $50m last year, as the internet giant focuses on new social network Google+ ahead of its public launch.

The “fall spring clean” follows a pledge by Larry Page to rid the company of inefficiencies after he took over as chief executive in April.

The products listed for closure include Aardvark, Desktop, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Pack, Google Web Security, Image Labeler, Notebook, Sidewiki and Subscribed Links.

Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice-president for engineering, announced the closures on the company’s official blog.

“Technology improves, people’s needs change, some bets pay off and others don’t. So, as Larry previewed on our last earnings call, today we’re having a fall spring clean at Google. Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features,” he said.

“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. All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products.”

Many of the Google staff are expected to transfer to Google+, the ambitious social network launched in invitation-only beta in June. According to industry calculations, Google+ hit 20 million users within three weeks of its launch.

Google has not said when it plans to open Google+ to all internet users, but is expected to do so before the first half of next year.

Eustace added: “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. But by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience.”

Although Google shied away from announcing “dramatic or immediate changes” after Page took the reins from Eric Schmidt in April, the closures are a sign of Page’s determination to get things done.

Product managers were asked earlier this year to pitch a 60-word explanation of their projects to the 38-year-old Google founder, with a view to slimming down the number.

In July, Google closed down its experimental feature-testing suite Google Labs.

Max Ventilla, the co-founder of Aardvark, which was bought by Google for $50m last year, suggested in a blog post on Friday that the social search product will be folded into Google+.

“We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+. It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing – even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original vark.com! – and there is much more to come very soon,” he said.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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