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Google To Shutter Knol, Wave, Gears 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-don't-know-what-knol-is-look-it-up-on-wikipedia dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google announced today on its official blog the impending closure of a number of its less successful services. In addition to retiring minor features like Bookmarks List and Friend Connect, Google has outlined a plan to close down Wave. The experimental communication medium will go read-only on January 31, and on April 30 they will shut it down completely. Also on April 30, Google will be changing Knol so that individual knols are not viewable, though users will still be able to download and export them until October 1, at which point they'll disappear entirely. Google Gears is also getting the axe, as is Search Timeline and the Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative."
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Google To Shutter Knol, Wave, Gears

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  • I cannot take them seriously anymore. Anyone to use them for business would be insane.
    • by imamac (1083405) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:22PM (#38143672)
      They cancel them because no one really uses them.
      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        The ones that aren't cancelled are the popular ones, and these often have regular price increases as they get more popular.

        Gmail and search are exceptions, since they probably make enough money from them already.

        Not that I expect free stuff from Google, they're a business and have to cover costs/make a profit etc.

      • Wave was amazing.
        And no one uses them because in early beta they are closed down.

        • by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:02PM (#38144006)

          Wave was a cool idea that desperately needed a desktop client and more partners. It needed an Open Rich Mail Alliance a-la Android to sell servers, integrate with for-pay and for-free services, and actually use the protocol for real work.

          As long as you had to go to the Google website to read a Wave it suffered from the perception that it was a Google service and was only useful in that way.

          (On the other hand you could go totally conspiracy-minded and say that Wave was intended to fail, and Google was attempting to use it as a pilot plant for various Google+ features, at a time when the Diaspora was all the rage and people were casting about for open source alternatives to Facebook.)

        • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:17PM (#38144094)

          Wave was amazing.
          And no one uses them because in early beta they are closed down.

          I tried Wave and it didn't make any damn sense so I didn't use it any more.

          • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:22PM (#38144130) Homepage

            How did it not make sense?
            Fill text boxes with text, that is about it.

            • How did it not make sense? Fill text boxes with text, that is about it.

              That's pretty much all I could think of, too.

          • by arkenian (1560563)

            Wave was amazing. And no one uses them because in early beta they are closed down.

            I tried Wave and it didn't make any damn sense so I didn't use it any more.

            Wave is good for some collaboration stuff. We loved it for online char-sheet work, for instance, some types of editing. I think Wave was awesome, if Niche, in many respects. I don't think Google spent enough time taking a truly awesome technology and researching/marketing use cases.

          • There's hints that they rolled some of the core technologies of Wave into Google Docs to enable document collaboration.

            They also donated Wave to Apache.

            I had great hopes for it as a collaboration application - never mind the social aspects. I'd really like to sit down with it and make something worthwhile, but I think it's beyond the limits of my spare time. Specifically, I think it would be really, really, great for medical records, as long as the access control, encryption, etc, can be sorted out. Especia

            • by Ardyvee (2447206)

              Indeed, the idea behind Google Wave was one with future -- if only people had understood what it really was. Having an assignment for school/university, and it's a group work. You could use Google Wave to work on the same document at the same time, see changes real time, and have a finished work without having to send a file to anybody. All you'd have to do then is more or less copy-paste it to a word processor (and fix possible inconsistencies), but that's just trivial.

          • by RManning (544016) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @10:33AM (#38148724) Homepage

            I agree completely.

            We had a production issue one day, and the team was spread all over the country at the time. We decided Wave would be perfect for collaboration. Signing up was easy enough, but every conversation got threaded in weird ways, we couldn't figure out how to tell what had been read or not. It was a total mess. After an hour or so we gave up and just used a chat room.

            I'm not saying it wouldn't have worked for us, but we could not figure it out.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:29PM (#38144164)

          At least Google did the right thing with Wave and made it open source:
          http://www.waveprotocol.org/wave-in-a-box

          Still, I'll miss the old girl. At least I have hopes that eventually I'll have a company-wide Wave server to replace Wikis (which have horrible access control) and email (which is just horrible).

        • by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:52PM (#38144312) Homepage Journal
          Wave also was slow as hell on older/weaker computers, a problem that only compounded as the wave got longer.
          • It was slow because they decided to implement it in javascript and didnt want to release a native client.

            Its sad to say, but if Microsoft had released the exact same thing, people would have been all over it because support would have been baked into Outlook 2012, it would have integrated with AD, and it would have been ready to install in Windows server 2008 in about 2 hours.

            Google (as is their wont) linked to a page on how to download and install the prereqs, how to compile wave, and how to get it going o

      • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:44PM (#38143868) Journal

        They cancel them because no one really uses them.

        For sufficiently imprecise definition of "no one". What you means is no one you personally care about.

        Welcome to the cloud, where abandonware is truly dead and nostalgia is a thing of the past. This is what happens when you hand the keys to the kingdom to a service provider with their own motivations and that do not care about you.

        And thanks for re-affirming the lesson Google. I now try to use Google for nothing except search and perhaps Google Earth on rare occassions. They've even managed to turn me off Picasa with glaring bugs like losing face data you spend hours entering.

        • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:08PM (#38144046) Homepage
          What you hear in this announcement is the sound of a "cloud" evaporating.
        • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:20PM (#38144128)

          That, in a nutshell, is why I have no particular interest in web applications I do not myself host. Aside from the vast privacy implications, you are totally at the mercy of the provider. A standalone, self-sufficient client with the option of web storage and/or sharing, fine. All of my work on a box run by someone who doesn't even have any contractual or regulatory obligations? No thanks.

          I will credit Google with letting people retrieve their data, but its usefulness is greatly reduced without the applications it was designed for.

          They call it the cloud because people have gotten wise to being offered low prices on the Brooklyn Bridge.

          • Well said.

          • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @10:18AM (#38148516) Journal

            That, in a nutshell, is why I have no particular interest in web applications I do not myself host. Aside from the vast privacy implications, you are totally at the mercy of the provider. A standalone, self-sufficient client with the option of web storage and/or sharing, fine. All of my work on a box run by someone who doesn't even have any contractual or regulatory obligations? No thanks.

            Yep yep.

            Remember when knol was first introduced? It was supposed to be a "verified wikipedia", written by experts. Those experts (you, me, anyone) were to spend a lot of time, effort, and domain knowledge in writing high-quality articles... and in return we would receive a per-click royalty. This would incentivize the creation of actionable content that would something something revolutionize something synergy something leverage.

            I remember thinking through the subjects for which I am credible authority, and considering whether to produce some knols in order to develop a bit of side income. I very seriously considered it... and judging from some of the knols I've seen, lots of other people went all the way.

            Now we see how it all ends up. Just like the DRM game ended up. "Oh, sorry users, but this quarter we have decided that the project isn't profitable. Or we just hired a new VP and he's shaking things up. Or whatever. We're closing it down, so f*** you and your investment, you're just an externality."

            I will now NEVER, EVER contribute content to a for-profit enterprise. Be it amazon reviews or knols or sidebar markups or whatever, that's it, I'm done.

        • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:30PM (#38144172) Homepage

          You could also run Wave yourself: Google has made it Open Source and it's now an Apache project: https://incubator.apache.org/wave/index.html [apache.org]

          • Is this the whole Wave with the web interface, because from the first glance it appears to be just the protocol and the APIs? Also, would this include federation between servers, because if I recall correctly it was never enabled in the Google Wave servers, so I suppose it's not ready either.

            • by dkf (304284)

              Is this the whole Wave with the web interface

              Why would you want that? While it was pretty enough, it was horribly hard to use (and harder still to use well).

              • by am 2k (217885)

                Why would you want that? While it was pretty enough, it was horribly hard to use (and harder still to use well).

                Still better than having to write your own client from scratch.

            • Well, they say:

              The main sub project of Apache Wave is "Wave in a Box", a stand alone wave server and rich web client that can serve as a Wave reference implementation.

              I haven't checked the source, though.

        • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:23PM (#38144466)

          They cancel them because no one really uses them.

          For sufficiently imprecise definition of "no one". What you means is no one you personally care about.

          Scary thing is, a community of 10,000 people could use and love a service, come to depend on it as part of their lives, but 20,000 just isn't enough eyeballs to pay the bills with advertising. Maybe Google should open an option for conversion of dying services to subscription basis instead of (addition to?) advertising?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:23PM (#38143680)

      Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

      The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

      And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

      My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:59PM (#38143976)

        Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

        The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

        But be careful - for it to all work, you have to remember to take ownership and set up an action plan that shifts some paradigms and enables group synergies - a lot of managers forget that part.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bjourne (1034822)
        Please mod parent down - it is a copy paste troll. While the story is mildly funny, it has already been posted about a million times to any store remotely related to cloud computing.
    • Yes, but they only cancel the obvious failures. Some companies could learn something, although they may not have many products left.
    • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:34PM (#38143794)

      I cannot take them seriously anymore. Anyone to use them for business would be insane.

      Because all companies should support all products forever, even if no one uses them? What company does that?

      I mean, look at Itanium, at this point the only way to keep Itanium alive would be to *pay* Intel to keep making them. Oh wait.... [slashdot.org]

      • Yes... Itanium is a product that "nobody uses," which is why IA64 server sales are several billion dollars a year.

        Apparently, people find the idea of one company paying another for a product to be shocking.
      • by CmdrPony (2505686) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:49PM (#38143906)
        Well, we if we compare to Microsoft, at least MS has specific end of support dates that you know. Google will just come out of the shadows and announce that support will be ended in one month. And not just support - the whole product will be gone. With desktop products they still at least work. With Google, software-as-service, and cloud they're just gone. No sane business would build their future on such ground.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Agreed. I had to have this conversation several times. Google just sent our CEO a notice that Google Health was also going to be pulled. His comment, "That's crazy. I believed all of their bullshit about how great it would be. What else can't I use? What else do we have on Google?" He meant what products or apps that we use or develop depend on google services other than google core. Too many.

          Google, at least give us a couple of years notice. Bing it is! not

        • by DogDude (805747)
          Did you think the fact that Microsoft charges money for the use of their products and Google doesn't, has anything to do with what you've said?
        • For Wave, you can download your data and the Wave source code (Google has released it as free software) and run your own server.

          That's hardly "the whole product will be gone", IMHO.

          Of course YMMV with other services.

          Standard disclaimers: I speak only for myself and not for my employer or anyone else. IANAL. IANARE.

        • by dcollins (135727)

          "No sane business would build their future on such ground."

          Fortunately, there aren't very many of those at all.

      • "Because all companies should support all products forever, even if no one uses them? What company does that?"

        If users got source-code and the right to modify/update their software no one would have to rely on companies in the first place. The whole bit about companies being able to own in perpetuity software they no longer support or sell but their users still use is bullshit. Users need rights to get source-code, etc. They have every right to modify/update their own software.

    • by msauve (701917)
      They're throwing stuff against the wall. If it doesn't stick, you really can't fault them for letting it fall. If you could predict with certainty what would ultimately be successful in the market, you wouldn't be spending time on /., you'd be doing something useful (and getting rich at the same time), instead of being an ankle biter.
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I cannot take them seriously anymore. Anyone to use them for business would be insane.

      Yes right because Microsoft would never deprecate DCOM, Silverlight or VB6

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:26PM (#38143710)

    However you will still be able to see ads for words you're searching for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:28PM (#38143730)

    ...oddly enough, Google absolutely FAIL at marketing.
    I'm not even kidding.

    How the hell they became the biggest damn advertiser on the web I will never know, they are hopeless at doing anything right.
    You want to know who they remind me of? Remember Malcolm In The Middle? Google is Malcolm!
    Awkward, obtuse, but somehow stupidly intelligent. Stupidly intelligent is probably the best way to describe Google.

    Seriously, why cancel Gears? Gears was USEFUL. It never needed that much attention as it was, and it was supposed to fill in for things that weren't quite ready in the HTML5 spec.
    They say they ditched it because "it is no longer needed" or some nonsense. Funny, I can't remember when the ability to be able to drag and drop files in to web apps was added, last I checked, the File API is still in planning even now.
    Gotta love that brilliant Offline Gmail we don't have anymore. Whats that, you released an extension for it? BRILLIANT IDEA, SOMETHING ELSE THAT ISN'T STANDARD AND WILL LIKELY HAVE TO BE KEPT UP TO DATE TOO, JUST LIKE GEARS.
    Absolute lunacy.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Canceling gears is to be expected, but doing so before there was support for the replacement in either of the other top three browsers is silly. That being said, I don't use the functionality as I prefer to use a proper mail client.

    • by Meshach (578918)

      Seriously, why cancel Gears? Gears was USEFUL...

      Google's decisions are not based on how useful an application is to anyone. Google is a company. If Gears or any future application does not make the company enough money then it will be axed.

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      google is awesome at marketing, the whole planet knows of it. The whole planet uses their main products. meanwhile, you're in a snit about a fringe trial-balloon project most people never heard of and which made google no money. Not only are they awesome at marketing, they are getting awesome at business.
    • by blacklint (985235)

      Funny, I can't remember when the ability to be able to drag and drop files in to web apps was added

      It seems to be fairly common [google.com], being used by Gmail since April 2010 [webmonkey.com], and is in the Mozilla docs [mozilla.org].

    • Hope you've got an easy way to get all your data back and can unhook all your applications cleanly.

      Google are cutting costs in advance of the onrushing double dip. Jobs will be next.

      This is what'll happen to any "cloud" service which isn't making money. Utility computing, you don't pay enough you get cut off. Live with it.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Better to fail at marketing that produce crappy products though. Look at Bing. It is the default search engine and home page for every Windows PC, yet they still can't compete with Google.

  • by jimpop (27817) * on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:40PM (#38143840) Homepage Journal

    Google Health too.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:40PM (#38143846)
    This is Google's big problem right now - throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks. The problem is people are now hesitant to invest in new Google projects because, hey, they'll be shut down in a year... If they can't commit to a new project, why should their customers?...
    • I disagree. Knol was released as beta in July of 2008, and Wave was opened up in May of 2009. Gears...2007? Not really *new* projects. I think Google used to get caught up in the acquisition game, but with the direction that they're taking with Google+, they are re-defining themselves. They still acquire companies, and make stuff in house, but they have much more of a focus now...not a shotgun approach from the past.
      • by Weezul (52464)

        Umm, Wave got canned pretty damn fast, they just didn't completely pull the plug until recently.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          Eh, you name a feature after a throwaway name from Firefly, what do you expect? Wave still lasted longer though.
      • The problem with redefining yourself is, if you can do it once, then you can do it again. Not an argument that inspires confidence in the kind of customers who are worried about fickleness.
  • by MurukeshM (1901690) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:45PM (#38143878)
    Google Wave - collaboration. Stopped early on. Now Google Docs allows real-time simultaneous editing by multiple users. If that isn't collaboration, I dunno what is. It might have nifty features that Doc doesn't have, but starting ten sections in the same company to do the same job is what I'd consider stupid (and standard practice).
    Google Gears - Holy crap! That thing is still alive?
    Google Search Timeline - I'm confused. What does Trends show us then?
    Re<C - They admit they're not the best suited for the job. So they publish their results and continue using renewable energy.
    Google Friend Connect - Dunno what that is, but seems kinda outa place now that Google+ (showing no signs of premature death) is here.
    Knol - This one is a bit sad. But then they worked with others to start Annotum [wordpress.com].
    Bookmark Lists - Meh.. With sharing links on fb and Google+ whenever we spot something interesting, who'll bother with this?
    • by belg4mit (152620)

      Trends is just that, recent trends in what people search for.
      Timeline is chronological sort of results, allows you to see the rise and fall of a term like jabberwocky, etc.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      Knol - This one is a bit sad. But then they worked with others to start Annotum.

      Seriously, I never found Knol to be useful, and actually have forgotten about it since it launched years ago. What was it ever used for?

  • Google Bookmarks Lists—Date was December 19, 2011. All your bookmarks are belong to recycle bin.
    Google Friend Connect— On March 1, 2012 you will face the fact that you have no friends.
    Google Gears—To be jammed December 1, 2011
    Google Search Timeline—Now history!
    Google Wave—Wave goodbye on January 31, 2012
    Knol—Stop seeking the Oracle on April 30, 2012
    Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (REC)—Redirecting enviro-bullshit, capt'n.

  • It's not even a seprate product, just a useful interface to search (they've since hidden away).
    Very useful to explore news coverage, prevalence of terminology, etc.

    Gears' and Wave are non-news, previously announced... indeed Gears has been death row almost a year now

  • http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-26/solar-may-be-cheaper-than-fossil-power-in-five-years-ge-says.html [bloomberg.com]

    Is that why Google has stopped work on the solar power tower design with heliostats?

  • by Art3x (973401)
    It could just be part of Larry Page's first year as CEO. Google may or may not keep shuttering projects at this rate.
  • by gottabeme (590848) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @12:30AM (#38145220)
    It's like that episode of TNG, "Conspiracy" [memory-alpha.org]. The leadership at Google has been infiltrated by aliens (or bean counters), and they're suddenly making decisions based on very different criteria. Google's making money hand-over-fist--they don't need to cut projects to pad the bottom line. But that's exactly what they're doing now--that and ruining the UIs of their best services. Google's eventual decline has begun sooner than expected. They're abandoning the formula that's gotten them where they are. Time to prep the lifeboats and prepare our own ships.
    • by Animats (122034)

      Google's stock peaked in 2007. Google is making money, but it's keeping all of it. They don't pay a dividend. Investors would like to see some return on their investment.

      Google still has the big problem that they only have one revenue source, ads. Nothing else they've tried makes much money. 96% is still from ads. Google's flings with telephony and social networking aren't contributing significant revenue. Being #1 in giving stuff away isn't paying off as well as expected.

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Well, Larry Page recently became CEO at Google, which is not a bean counter. Probably they are acting like Steve Jobs.

    • I suspect this is more to do with focus than bean counting. Though I agree Google is foundering.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      Google's eventual decline has begun sooner than expected.

      For me it already started when they stopped being the cool company to work at about a year ago. That's Facebook now apparently [cnn.com].

  • by sunfly (1248694)
    The release products before they are complete. It would help if they waited until products were ready for prime time before releasing them.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @03:56AM (#38146352) Journal

    What the fuck Google? I like Google as a company, I really do, but this is a shit move however you look at it. They don't have to support any more updates to Knol, but why the hell not jsut host the pages as static content? That wouldn't break the bank and would definitely generate some good will. Or at least, stem a fuckton of ill-will.

  • A cloud company... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AdmV0rl0n (98366) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @04:49AM (#38146550) Homepage Journal

    That keeps launching and killing things. And mismanaging things.

    Wave was a brilliant collaboration tool that was under developed and killed too early.

    Why would I put anything inside someone's cloud when every month they announce new closures, and terminations. There was a time where Google released stuff, and people were allowed to use that 'stuff' and the google machine paid for it, and you knew where you stood. The company is now operating in an opposite direction. You now don't know if they launch something, wether you can invest time in it. You don't know if it will stay up or be yanked.

    And - if you took time and for example liked Wave - they renaged on their promises, and not only announced its end - buit have not done what they said they would do. They have not made good on their public statements.

    Anyone who deals with cloud based companies that:-
    1. Breach trusts and don't commit fullt to what they state they will do
    And
    2. End services and support just because it suits them, irrespective of what it may cost you.

    Is a cloud company to be wary of. This is not the behaviour of early google, and its showing.

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