While most of the United States was getting ready for the long Labor Day weekend, Google used Friday afternoon to announce that over the next several months, it will be discontinuing Aardvark, Google Desktop, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Pack, Google Web Security, Image Labeler, Google Notebook, Sidewiki, and Subscribed Links.
In the official blog entry, Google refers to the announcement as a "fall spring-clean," tidying up the search giant's overall portfolio and fulfilling CEO Larry Page's July promise to put "more wood behind fewer arrows." And apparently, some offerings will be integrated into existing Google products in the form of new features.
I couldn't help but notice that the product offerings slated for the chopping block generally fall into two key categories: social tools and desktop software.
When it comes to the realm of social, Google obviously has a newfound focus on the troubled Google+ network, and experiments like the collaboration tool Sidewiki and crowdsourced search engine Aardvark understandably and inevitably had to fall to the wayside.
And Google has given a lot of lip service to its focus on staying "100% web" and keeping its applications browser-based. That means that downloadable desktop software like, ahem, Google Desktop and Google Pack are officially obsolete with the availability of offline mode in Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.
For more details on the timeline and short-term future of each product mentioned here, that same Google blog entry mentioned above has the scoop. But here's what the big G says about the overall transition (emphasis mine):
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. As for our users, we’ll communicate directly with them as we make these changes, giving sufficient time to make the transition and enabling them to take their data with them.
This is the second batch of products that Google has shut down in the last few weeks, with Slide apps getting discontinued as well. But at least the company is reaffirming its commitment to letting customers take their data with them when they go.