Google Message Continuity, Social Graph API and more on the chopping block

Google has announced that Google Message Continuity, Picnik, the Social Graph API, Urchin, Google Sky Map and Needlebase are getting merged, open sourced or else killed entirely.
Written by Matt Weinberger, Contributor

As part of its ongoing campaign to focus on its core strengths, Google has announced that six more products are getting merged, open sourced, or else killed off entirely. So while Google Sky Map will find a second life as the basis for student projects, I hope you weren't relying on Google Message Continuity to back up your Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

Here's the full list of products in Google's crosshairs, as per the official blog entry:

  • Google Message Continuity (GMC), the Googleplex's two-year-old solution for backing up on-premises Microsoft Exchange e-mail to the cloud, has had hundreds of businesses pick it up. But that's small potatoes next to the "millions" of businesses that have gone fully to the cloud by way of Google Apps. So rather than look backwards at on-premises e-mail, Google says that it's cutting support, and is encouraging current customers to evaluate Google Apps and abandon Exchange altogether when their current contracts expire.
  • Google Sky Map, one of the biggest bragging points for first-generation Android phone users, was originally created by "half a dozen Googlers at the Pittsburgh office in their 20 percent time." It let you take a photo of the sky and see the planets, stars and other celestials bodies overhead. Now, Google is open sourcing the project and working with Carnegie Mellon University to turn further development over to a series of student projects.
  • Needlebase: Originally acquired from ITA Software, the Needlebase data management platform will be shut down on June 1st, 2012. Google says that the technology may be repurposed elsewhere.
  • Picnik, the online photo editor, will be shut down on April 19, 2012. You can use Picnik Takeout to remove your data, or else copy all your photos over to Google+. In the meantime, the premium version is officially free for all, with refunds coming to premium members in the coming weeks.
  • Social Graph API: Google had high hopes for this API, which "makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers." But uptake just hasn't been there, and it's deprecated as of now ahead of a full shutdown on April 20, 2012.
  • Urchin: Way back in 2005, Google acquired Urchin to use its code as the foundation for what would become Google Analytics. But Google is committed to taking Google Analytics all the way as an online-only service, so it's time for Urchin Software, the client-hosted version of the platform, to be taken off the market. After March 2012, Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available for purchase.

And that, as they say, is that. The theme of these phase-outs, if there is one, is that Google is simply whittling away any service that doesn't fit into its existing Google Apps-Google+ ecosystem. It's a bold move, and I think it's going to result in a stronger core focus for Google's emerging cloud platforms. But at the same time, cutting functionality is cutting functionality, and this is going to leave some users high and dry.

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