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Google’s Top 10 flaming failures

At a time when it is in the last stages of testing its game-changing driverless cars and high-tech devices, Internet giant Google last month announced the closure of its first experiment with social media, Orkut.

tech reviews Updated: Jul 21, 2014 13:48 IST
Google X,Google buzz,Dodgeball

At a time when it is in the last stages of testing its game-changing driverless cars and high-tech devices, Internet giant Google last month announced the closure of its first experiment with social media, Orkut.

While Google is undoubtedly a phenomenal success in search and online videos, it has also given birth to a series of duds. We list the 10 biggest failures from the stable of the Mountainview, California-based company.

1. Google X

Google X was a version of Google homepage, modelled on the Mac OS interface. The bottom of the page read, "Roses are red, violets are blue. OS X rocks, homage to you." It's difficult to imagine Google honouring Apple today, considering their continued rivalry. Google X only lived for a day.

2. Google buzz

This short-lived disaster nestled between the Orkut and Google-Plus, a social media site that lived for all of one year.

3. Dodgeball

Google bought Dodgeball, a mobile social networking app that gave users a way of texting friends about where they were or where they were going. The firm eventually killed off the mobile social networking software and re-launched it as Google Latitude

4. Google wave

This service was an by-invitation-only app, and combined e-mail, instant messaging, and social media into one package. Three years after it hit the market, Google gave it over to Apache Software Foundation for open source development

5. Google answers

Google’s answer to Yahoo! Answers lived for four years. The service was based on users paying for answers they would receive by researchers and eventually fell to Yahoo’s free Answers service. Users ended up preferring to get their information from Yahoo Answers, even if free often means unreliable.

6. Jaiku

This was a Twitter-like blogging service that Google bought way back in 2007. It never really took off, and Google shut it down roughly a year ago

7. Google video player

Yes, Google used to have its own video player. The Google Video Player was a standalone desktop application for playing Google video files. Despite the Google branding, it lived only for two years, as the Internet has never been short on video players

8. Google catalog

Google Catalog was a search engine for print catalogues. It struggled along in Beta (trial) form from 2001 until 2009 before Google finally figured out that only Internet illiterates still use catalogues and shut it down.

9. Web accelerator

Google's downloadable web accelerator aimed at speeding up surfing was a proxy server that used to reduce web access times using cache-ing technology. Bugs and privacy issues ensured that it was put down in 2008.

10. Google audio ads

The radio-based advertising platform was intended to offer the powerful metrics of search-based advertising to broadcasters. However, measuring performance --- something like TRP ratings for television programmes used today --- proved too difficult, and so in 2009 Google Audio Ads was tuned out.

Other notable failures
Google Notebook - Online research tool
Page Creator –Website hosting
Google Knol – Author collaboration venture
Picnik – Online photo editing
Google Desktop – PC search
Google Health – Personal health info service

And the winners are
Hey, Google is still hugely successful in several of its initatives. Here is a list of stuff that makes the company awesome, as its admirers would say.

Search Engine
The term ‘Googling’ has become synonymous with online searching for a reason. Google holds a 72% share of the “search market”, and handles over 1 billion search requests a day, which are managed by over 1 million servers world-wide. The Web search, along with refining tools and video, image and news options, make the Google search engine second to none.

Gmail started out as a by-invite-only application. Released in 2004, Gmail offered a then-unprecedented 1GB of free space per user and allowed attachments up to 25MB per email (which was again massive at the time). Today, it is the most popular Web-based email provider with well over 400 million active users.

Chrome browser
Google’s Chrome web browser launched in 2008 and since then has eaten up 40% of the world’s browser market share, hitherto dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. The browser’s snappy web-surfing experience upped the bar for competitors.

The customisable open-source mobile operating system was released back in 2008. At the time, people doubted if it could compete with Apple’s iOS. Five years on, Android has roughly 80% of the smartphone OS market, and has expanded to tablets, wearable computing devices, and even cars.

Google Maps
Google's map service is the number one map application used today for multiple reasons: it's accurate, offers route options, is traffic-live (in some countries) – and fast, effective and highly accurate. Best of all, it is free. There are many map applications, but there is no true competition.

The world’s hottest online video destination. Need we say more?

First Published: Jul 21, 2014 13:33 IST