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Google To Discontinue Google Labs 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
kai_hiwatari writes "Today, Google has announced that they are closing down Google Labs. They say this will help them prioritize their product effort. Google says closing Google Labs means ending many of their experiments. However, not every experiment will be gone. Google will be incorporating the Labs experiments they have decided to continue in other product areas. Android apps such as Google Goggles, Google Listen etc. will continue to be available in the Android Market."
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Google To Discontinue Google Labs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @04:52PM (#36828190)

    I think this is the single most disappointing announcement Google has ever done.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google's been doing this to a number of good things recently. The one that I missed was Google Maps' real estate search layer. Yes, there are alternatives; no, they're not quite as awesome. Now Google Maps' driving directions don't tell you how long traffic could make your trip.

      They're under no obligation to make the Internet a better place, I suppose, but it makes me sad.

      • I used to use Google maps like twice or thrice as much when you used to be able to filter by rating.

        I also very much miss the 4 column format for iGoogle. How is that now that everybody has widescreen displays, that's when they get rid of the best format to view on them?

        Google doesn't give a shit about anything either. There will be hundreds of people in their feedback forums going "give it back we used that" and they don't even explain anything or make even the pretense of an apology. They just ignore
        • 4 columns for igoogle is back! It's been back for weeks or months, at least. I'm a huge fan, and was also very upset when they went to 3 columns max. With about 15 tabs with 100+ feeds on each one, it was rough with 3 columns.
        • by LibRT (1966204)
          To change to 4 columns: in iGoogle: Options-->iGoogle settings. Scroll to bottom. Click "Export" button next to "Export iGoogle settings to your computer:" This will download an xml file to your computer. Open the xml file using gedit or somesuch and do a find and replace, replacing all instances of "THREE_" with "FOUR_". Save as iGoogle-settings-modified.xml (or whatever name you wish). Go back to Options-->iGoogle settings and click "Choose File" under "Import iGoogle settings from a file:" Select
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            To change to 4 columns: in iGoogle: Options-->iGoogle settings. Scroll to bottom. Click "Export" button next to "Export iGoogle settings to your computer:" This will download an xml file to your computer. Open the xml file using gedit or somesuch and do a find and replace, replacing all instances of "THREE_" with "FOUR_". Save as iGoogle-settings-modified.xml (or whatever name you wish). Go back to Options-->iGoogle settings and click "Choose File" under "Import iGoogle settings from a file:" Select your modified xml file, click "Upload" and you're good to go.

            Simples!

  • I can almost hear Don McLean in the background - very, very faintly...
    • by lennier (44736) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:49PM (#36828856) Homepage

      I can almost hear Don McLean in the background - very, very faintly...

      And they were singin',
      I, I'm feeling lucky today
      I boot my Chrometop to the desktop but the Wave's gone away
      And Google boys turn off their Goggles and say
      This'll be the day I get laid

      • by MarkRose (820682)

        I never use Google Groups
        Or Alerts to remain in the loop
        And what is Google Desktop?
        Oh I seldom use Google Maps
        There's Bing or Mapquest for that crap
        Will they shut it down and stop the endless flops?

  • Pity... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ibiwan (763664) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @04:55PM (#36828230) Journal
    ...I actually used Sets [google.com] on a fairly regular basis. Check out it out before it's gone!
    • by joggle (594025)

      Very cool. Tends to work well for words, but not numerical sets (unless the numbers are model numbers, like 777, 747, etc).

      Also got an interesting result when trying to do a search for small towns such as Llano and Burnet (in Texas). One of the results was "associated press", likely because there was an AP article recently about the drought in Llano.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I just tried it, and entered Dog, Horse, and Goat, then clicked small set.

      It all looked great until the second last entry and so I have to ask, what the fuck kind of animal is a "various"?

  • Isn't the whole point of the "20% time" over at Google that people can just work on whatever they want, useful or not? Labs seemed like a great place for this sort of work to live, whether it became a "real" product eventually or not. I'm not really sure I understand the logic behind closing it down to "focus" on their main products. If that's their goal, they should eliminate the 20% time completely.

    On another note, does this mean all the labs in Gmail, etc are going away as well?
    • Re:20% Time? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zget (2395308) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:00PM (#36828322)
      As someone else here commented, Google has been changing rapidly recently: http://linux.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2339084&cid=36825878 [slashdot.org]

      I also was able to meet with some (middle management) people at Google and their attitude reminded me very strongly of MS's behavior 15 years ago: They don't listen to what others say and what they say often implies: "We're the smartest people on the planet, the world revolves around us, if you don't want to work with us and use our stuff, you're just an idiot." So it think I can conclude that Google sees themselves as "winning" the way that MS saw themselves winning in the late 90's.

      You can see the same change with all the "privacy is not important" and the recent Google+ product. I think we are really seeing a turning point here. Google has finally passed the point where it has, after a long time, accepted it's not the small geeky company it once was and is now just driving for profits. The scary thing is, they have got in a great position to exploit that now.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Fortunately for us, a little company called Apple stands in their way.

      • by dunezone (899268)

        I think we are really seeing a turning point here. Google has finally passed the point where it has, after a long time, accepted it's not the small geeky company it once was and is now just driving for profits. The scary thing is, they have got in a great position to exploit that now.

        Google is maturing if not reached maturity. They did their experimenting but now the bottom line is whats most important. They will focus on the entities they have created that can bring in revenue and will only invest in new entities that have strong potential to grow such as Google+.

        • When a company is concerned about its children (employees and customers), it grows. When it is concerned about its investors, it stifles itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ustolemyname (1301665)
        You mean the privacy oriented Google+ product? The one that has a user interfaces that forces users to manage their privacy, and enables them to do it well?
        • let us know in a year or two how well this privacy stuff wroks on google.

          I'll wait. I have a lot of time...

          come on - we both know the bait/switch that exists on 'free web services'. you can bet that what you have today is will eroded away with some explanation of a 'benefit' to you (or maybe they'll just be very blatant).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh, just call them DoubleClick and be done with it. That's what they are.

      • The changes appear due to Larry Page (one of the founders) having this year taken over from Eric Schmidt as CEO. Obviously he'd not have done it if he intended to run the company the same way, and he's made a number of moves in the direction of more focus.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I hope not. There are some great Gmail labs that have become a regular part of my Gmail interface.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      and working at google begins to suck in 3 2 1..
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      Well, they are a pubically traded company that needs to grow every quarter in compressed 8 to 12 week time frames to boast its share price. Like most companies the need to cut costs and increase productivity.

      The employees need to work 20% harder the same price and you can do this by having them focus on products which generate income. It is a business and not a fun place to experiment with cool toys.

      The worst situation would be for the Wall Street investors to march in and hire efficiency experts who will t

      • a pubically traded company

        Ewww - that's makes them sound like an STD. At the very least, you should probably wash your hands before returning to work.

    • 20% time went away long ago.

      --
      Posted from my xoom.
      The 3.2 update seems to have fixed the browser somewhat so posting to slashdot is now possible though not pleasant with per character lag over 1 second.

      • by SnowZero (92219)

        You should have tried 20% TaskForce projects, they work great. You bank up a quarter's worth of 20% time (1-2 weeks) then use it all at once to work in small groups at a shared location. My new team started up this spring, and was originally based on a 20% TaskForce from last fall.

        So no, 20% time is not dead, but you do need to get off your ass to use it. Just like vacation time, nobody can force you to use it, and if you don't make use of it you lose it.

        Of course, 20% time to work on something completel

  • How about free lunch?

    • Google has decided to eliminate this "lunch" you speak of, as it was detracting from their core products.
    • by creativeHavoc (1052138) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:55PM (#36829520) Homepage

      While many were left wondering, Google tells me that the company has no changes to announce with regards to the 20 Percent Time program; killing Labs doesn’t mean the discontinuation of the one day a week Googlers get to spend on “projects that aren’t necessarily in [their] job descriptions.” “We’ll continue to devote a subset of our time to newer and experiment projects,” Google representative Jason Friedenfelds tells me.

      http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/20/20-percent/

  • Google Sets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slshwtw (1903272) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @04:59PM (#36828296)
    I use google sets [google.com] from time to time when I can't remember something, like the name of a product or company, by generating a list from items I know are similar.
  • How are they going to get feedback from their users? Monitor Twitter?
    • Usual pattern for Google is to get lots of feedback then ignore it. So you could view not getting the feedback in the first place as a sensible cost saving measure.

      --

      Posted from my xoom.

    • Google doesn't give a crap about user feedback - look at their forums, full of people begging for enhancements (like searching for partial words in gmail, being able to zoom fontsizes, not into pages in chrome etc etc etc) and they don't give a crap.

    • How are they going to get feedback from their users?

      Release things that would currently be released as "labs" offerings either as "experimental features" in a selectable beta version of an established product, or as limited release independent products that have a roadmap to being full self-sustaining products.

      They've actually done a lot of that while Labs was alive, and I'd expect that to continue.

  • Nooo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Slartibartfast (3395) <kenNO@SPAMjots.org> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @04:59PM (#36828304) Homepage Journal

    I've always *loved* Google Labs! It's where I first bumped into "suggest," and a whole bunch of other really cool features that have eventually been rolled into the final product.

    I'm very, very sad. Used to be a Red Hat Labs that suffered the same fate; I guess that sort of paradigm just doesn't have enough energy for the long run.

    *sigh*

    • by vlm (69642)

      I've always *loved* Google Labs! It's where I first bumped into "suggest," and a whole bunch of other really cool features that have eventually been rolled into the final product.

      I'm very, very sad. Used to be a Red Hat Labs that suffered the same fate; I guess that sort of paradigm just doesn't have enough energy for the long run.

      *sigh*

      Bell Labs?

      • by robathome (34756)

        You mean the arm of Alcatel-Lucent that decided they will no longer do pure science, and concentrate on product-oriented R&D?

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      I've always *loved* Google Labs! It's where I first bumped into "suggest," and a whole bunch of other really cool features that have eventually been rolled into the final product.

      I'm very, very sad. Used to be a Red Hat Labs that suffered the same fate; I guess that sort of paradigm just doesn't have enough energy for the long run.

      *sigh*

      This is probably going to be unpopular, this being Slashdot (wait for the troll mods!)

      Microsoft Research. The minds that brought you some really awesome stuff. But on the flip side... Songsmith.

  • by wrencherd (865833) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:01PM (#36828332)
    . . . is this:

    We’ll continue to push speed and innovation—the driving forces behind Google Labs—across all our products, as the early launch of the Google+ field trial last month showed.

    It's a lot faster just to read the orig [blogspot.com].

    • by syousef (465911)

      . . . is this:

      We’ll continue to push speed and innovation—the driving forces behind Google Labs—across all our products, as the early launch of the Google+ field trial last month showed.

      It's a lot faster just to read the orig [blogspot.com].

      Who on earth needs to read a whole stack of marketing BS. They're doing a bad thing for short term profit. It's that simple. All the doubletalk is meaningless and only serves as a rationalisation or explanation for morons.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:01PM (#36828338) Homepage

    Does this mean the end of Google's self-driving cars?

  • Oh please don't let them take this offline!

  • by nerdyalien (1182659) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:19PM (#36828528)

    I doubt this is the end of Google generating cool ideas/apps. As long as they keep on hiring new guys with brilliant imagination, they are safe. But this announcement sounds like they are moving towards more big corporate style work flow, where all cool ideas are channeled towards an existing product. I see some similarities with Microsoft here, where most research is geared towards an existing product.

    Potential downfall is, some ideas/apps/products are better off alone. For an example, whole Xbox Kinect was exceptional as a hardware device. But as it was bundled with the gaming console, we missed out all the other cool stuff it can do (hacks we saw on youtube). Quite lucky they released a SDK. Sometimes, I wish they released Kinect as an separate ubiquitous hardware.

    • go read about Microsoft research. They contribute a lot to fundamental computer sciences; this is not product oriented unless you consider things like research on monadic programming a product.

  • by Rotag_FU (2039670) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:23PM (#36828562)
    I hope this is not the case, but it sounds like they are killing off their central idea birthing grounds? When Google first started developing an OS for cell phones it would have seemed like a crazy stretch for a search engine company, but Android is successful today. How many new "crazy" ideas will never see the light of day that could create future critical technologies for the company by this decision to "prioritize their product effort"? It is important for a tech company to have focus, but it needs at least a small group of innovative people to have the opportunity to let their ideas run wild in order to create the next big thing or they will eventually just stall and hand over technological innovation to a smaller, hungrier company. To me this seems almost as stupid as when Xerox decided that the core ideas at Xerox PARC in the 70's weren't worth productizing and basically gave them away to Apple.
    • by wdef (1050680)

      ... it sounds like they are killing off their central idea birthing grounds?

      No. You forget that everything is about 'apps' and the 'app ecosystem' now. App sales = money. Google labs != money. Why provide lab extensions for free when someone can sell an app for money? That is where they are heading.

      • App sales = money. Google labs != money. Why provide lab extensions for free when someone can sell an app for money?

        Putting relevant ads on the pages of Google web applications == money. If by "app sales" you're referring to taking a 30% cut of Android Market application sales like Apple does on its own App Store, Google decided early that this revenue stream isn't all-important. Otherwise, it 1. wouldn't have added the "Unknown sources" checkbox that lets end users install third-party app stores from .apk packages, and 2. would have spearheaded a viable Android-powered competitor to iPod touch, some sort of "Nexus Playe

    • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @06:23PM (#36829184)

      When Google first started developing an OS for cell phones it would have seemed like a crazy stretch for a search engine company, but Android is successful today.

      Android, from day one, was a product like any other. It was not born in the Labs, it was purchased.

    • I think you could have seen them developing a mobile OS when the bought the mobile OS company that was making android...
    • Why would Android be a crazy stretch for a search engine and advertising company? Android supports their core business by extending Google services everywhere. They don't make money off Android directly, that's why it's open source.

      Sounds to me like they're consolidating their projects and experiments and focusing on the ones which can drive and support their core business (advertising), which is what any sensible corporation does.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:26PM (#36828592)

    Is funny or depressing...

    An email came through and a coworker died last night. Everybody read it and then went about their day.

    This announcement came on Slashdot and I just heard three people exclaim "Noooo!!!"

    I am still undecided whether that is a sad state of affairs or funny....

  • That fact that I logged in instead of just posting anonymously should be a clue.

    Google Labs brings me lots of fun things to play with. This sucks. I use Mytracks and Fusion Tables all the time. Not to mention the addons for Maps, Gmail, Calendar and all those extras.

    Thats what made Google products great was that the Google staff could work on their weird projects.

    Selex
  • by wdef (1050680) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:41PM (#36828768)
    On the surface this is just plain dumb. But lab extensions like Tasks should just be a default part of gmail anyway and hopefully will be. My guess is this is about superseding the labs concept with apps which can come from anywhere and are easy to monetize.
    • On the surface this is just plain dumb. But lab extensions like Tasks should just be a default part of gmail anyway and hopefully will be. My guess is this is about superseding the labs concept with apps which can come from anywhere and are easy to monetize.

      Supposedly the "Gmail labs" and "Calendar labs" aren't going away - it just the truly separate projects that are currently hosted under the "googlelabs.com" domain.

  • Of course (Score:4, Funny)

    by Exitar (809068) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @05:41PM (#36828770)

    No time for innovation. All resources must be used to better clone Facebook.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is this the beginning of the end? The bean counters take over and start cutting projects when there is no bottom line in site? I worked for Ma Bell during the golden age and when Bell Labs was one of the premier research labs in the world. Where is it today? Funding cut, only projects with a clear bottom line 'researched'.... I hope that Google isn't headed in that direction anytime soon....(they will get there someday though).
  • I've always been wary of "cloud computing", esp. when it's powered by a hybrid "thick-client" connected to a remote data repository... Applications anyone? At least with a client side service (eg: mail reader app) I can continue to use the features I like (such as gestures, goggles, nibbles, etc.) beyond the external "support" lifetime -- Without wondering if a feature will disappear tomorrow.

    As an avid Google Labs user, I find their lack of support disturbing.

    Furthermore, my plotter does not work with Windows7. The MFG no-longer supports it, so they won't recompile the driver, or give out the source so that I may do so. XP's EOL is 993.0488278587964 from now. This tells me that not only will I be using G'Linux / FLOS Software in the near future, and insist on hardware driver source-code, but that "The Cloud" I use must be built from my own servers, or not at all.

    I think I'll call my globally accessible private personal network "The Closet"; I suspect many will identify with this terminology in terms of privacy for multiple reasons.

  • Well, that's a bummer.

    I just started using Google Body [googlelabs.com] a couple of months ago, and it's fantastic.

    Especially if you're about to have shoulder surgery.

    Don't want to see this site disappear...

  • I liked labs, but I like great *finished* software even more. In my experience Google is great at rolling out early versions of cool software but often failing (or taking ridiculously long) to add critical features that would really make it complete.

    If Larry Page is telling the troops that they now have to finish that final 10%, I'm all for it.

    And for those complaining about innovation: G+ isn't innovative??

    • by QJimbo (779370)

      And for those complaining about innovation: G+ isn't innovative??

      No, it isn't. It's Facebook with circles, and the same underlying privacy issues.

      • And for those complaining about innovation: G+ isn't innovative??

        No, it isn't. It's Facebook with circles, and the same underlying privacy issues.

        Not to mention that Google+'s "circles" isn't all that new - it's just better promoted than Facebook's "lists". Functionally I don't think there's a significant difference.

        • I don't know what it's like now, but when I tried it (some significant amount of time after it was introduced) Facebook's implementation was awful - namely, it notified the people in your lists that you added them to that list - including informing them what the list was called. As far as I can tell, no one actually uses this feature on facebook.

          Google+ has a fundamentally different approach - it essentially forces you to use this feature, and it makes it simple and easy to manage and to be sure that you're

          • by spiralx (97066) *

            FB hasn't notified anyone about me adding them to a list in the three or four years since I started using it, nor have I ever received such a notification. G+ does only require 2 clicks to publish to a particular group rather than FB's 3 clicks though, although on FB you can use exclude friend lists and/or users when you publish as well as include, on G+ you can only include.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:07PM (#36830202) Homepage Journal

    Google is far too willing to pull the plug on their ventures for me. I used to use the GOOG411 service, but they killed it. And I'm concerned that if I put a lot of time and energy into Google+, they'll kill it too.

    LK

    • Fair point, but that's modern life. Nothing stays still, things are constantly evolving. Things are born and die off. Just look at MySpace now.

    • If they kill it, you can easily download all your content and use it to move into a new service.
    • I'm pretty convinced that GOOG411 was just a large scale voice recognition training program for Google Voice Actions on Android.
  • I use "Measure" found on the android app Google Maps. It is very handy for measuring walking distances on the fly.... because I walk a lot.
  • Google Labs is going and, in other news tonight... Google Directory is already gone!
    http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2011/07/google-directory-no-longer-available.html
    It really sad that Google feels it has to trim so many projects and services

  • I am not sure if this applies to all technologies that are not search engines or google+, but they have great datacenters, and cloud computing, they have the best picture album maker, they have a slew of great things to make life easier for everyone, i wonder what they will nix, and what they will keep....maybe making it available through the app store or google+ to get people interested???

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