More Casualties of Google's Clearout
Written by Lucy Black   
Saturday, 21 January 2012

Google has issued an update about products that it is letting go of in the coming months. a continuation of its clearout that saw many products vanish during 2011. And there's (unofficial) news that Google Code Search lives on.

Writing on The Official Google Blog, Dave Girouard, VP of Product Management has provided a list of six more products that will bite the dust, at least as far as Google is concerned. He tries to put a positive spin on this by saying it is to,

"focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google",

but many supporters and users of the products concerned are far from happy.


There are over 400 responses to the news that Picknik, an online editing suite that was acquired by Google in March 2010 and they range from "not happy", through "very disappointed " and "terrible news" to "sad", "shocked" and obviously angry.

The idea that the Picknik team has "sold out" without regard to their loyal customers comes in response to the news, in their  official announcement of the closure, that they,

"now get to fous on even awesomer things".

In other words, as Dave Girouard explains, the Picknic developers will move over to work on photo-editing in other Google products, presumably including Google + which Picknik customers are not at all impressed with.

There is obviously an element of guilt on the part of Google and Picknik as a full refund is being given to all Premium subscribers, even if their membership is about to expire, and use of the site between now and when it closes on April 19 will be free for everyone.

Google + is also likely to benefit from the deprecation, with immediate effect, of the Social Graph API. The reason given for its retirement, which takes full effect on April 20, 2012, is that this API, launched in 2008 to provide developers with information about connections between people on the web, is that "it is not experiencing the kind of adoption [Google would] like".

Relatively low take up also seems to be the reason for closing Google Message Continuity, an email disaster recovery product for enterprise customers, although in this case all current customers (numbered in their hundreds) will be able to use it for the remainder of their contracts although they are all being encouraged to move as soon as possible to Google Apps for Business which has 4 million customers and is the product that Google is focusing its effort on.

New sales of Urchin, which was acquired by Google in 2005 and was the forerunner of Google Analytics, will be discontinued at the end of March. However, while users are being encouraged to migrate to Google Analytics, it is expected that current installations will "continue to work fine on most systems for years to come". Co-founder of Urchin Software, Paul Muret is now Director of Engineering, Google Analytics and states in his announcement:

The Urchin Software product has now been completely overshadowed by its tremendously popular offspring. And so, it is time that we now complete the cycle by officially retiring the Urchin Software product and focus exclusively on online analytics.

This seems the least controversial of the retirements.

The least informative of the announcements relates to Needlebase, a data management platform acquired by Google only in April 2011 when ITA Software "merged" with Google. Its fate is unclear:

"This technology is being evaluated for integration into Google's other data-related initiatives."

Exactly what the future will hold for Google Sky Map, a highly popular Android app that was created by a small team of Googlers in their "20 percent time" when they could pursue personal projects to show of the capabilities of the sensors in the first generation phones Android, is also a bit hazy. It is being open-sourced and Google is

"collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in a partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects". 

Let's hope this works out as planned as this is an app that lots of users find a real eye-opener and even accounts for one or two purchases of an Android phone.

One discontinued service that seems to have survived the cull is Google Code Search. The unofficial Google Operating System blog reports:

Even though Google says that the service has been shut down, it hasn't. Just go to and you'll see the old homepage. All of the old features are still available and the results aren't restricted to Google Code Hosting projects.

We tried it and it works - at least for now.

More Information:

Google announcement

Official Announcement: Picnik is closing

The End of an Era for Urchin Software

Google Code Search, Still Available

Related news:

Google Labs to close

Google dumps APIs

Google continues its mass clearout

Google's Clearout Sweeps Away Code Search



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Last Updated ( Monday, 06 February 2012 )