10 Mind-Blowing Google Product Fails

by Nicole June 27th, 2011 


Googles creep towards a presence that is literally everywhere in the online world makes it seem as if everything it touches turns to gold. Their flagship search engine, Gmail, the Android operating system and the web browser Chrome would make any parent proud.


But Google does have some children who failed to live up to expectations and were abandoned on the mountainside, like less-hardy Spartan infants. The message: you can't be everything all at once.

10. Shared Stuff



As a social bookmarking service, Shared Stuff never really took off. It wasnt properly integrated into Googles suite of products, it was buggy and it didnt cover any ground that sites like Delicious (then styled del.icio.us) werent doing better.

In the end, Google cut their losses and abandoned the service, while some of the better Shared Stuff ideas have shown up in the more popular Google Reader. Google knows a thing or two about synergy, after all.

9. Wave


One of the most appealing parts of the Google experience is the simplicity and user-friendliness of its products. Google Wave was given a wave of publicity likening it to the social networks that Google was eyeing suspiciously.

It turned out to be more of a business-type application, suitable for collaborative working, but many users wouldnt have gotten far enough to figure that out: an introductory tutorial video that lasted more than an hour should have given Google an early hint.

8. Jaiku


Google just cant seem to get a handle on social networking.

Their microblogging site Jaiku was another such project that failed. There was nothing wrong with Jaiku. In fact there still isnt. While Google is no longer developing the project, it is still functional. It just never took off, possibly because it didnt fill a niche that Twitter wasnt exploiting successfully already. And nobody wants to tweet on two different platforms.

7. Dodgeball


In 2005 Google acquired two new properties: the Android software system, and Dodgeball, a social service for mobiles. Sadly, Android seems to have quickly outgrown its playmate.

Google shut down Dodgeball in 2009 and is trying to cover the same ground with Google Latitude. At least Android is working out okay, although it must irritate Google that they cant popularize the software that would like to run on it. Another one of Google's children that didn't get picked for the team.

6. Google Video


The writing was on the wall for Google Video as soon as YouTube came on the scene a month later, with the latter's high user base and well-known logo causing Googles eyes to wander and purchase its competitor in 2006.

So, Google Video (now Google Videos) is being phased out, with YouTube taking over its video uploads. Again, it wasnt so much that Google Video failed as that another product was just doing the same thing better. To the victor the spoils; that'd be YouTube... then Google.

5. SearchMash


SearchMash had a lot of interesting features, especially the ability for users to reorder " or mash up " their own search results with simple dragging and dropping. In fact, some people were quite content with this new product and used SearchMash as their default search engine instead of the standard Google Search.

Unfortunately, Google wasnt very happy with this uptake, as users of SearchMash bypassed the ads which are Googles bread and butter. SearchMash was killed off in 2008 and SearchWiki released as its replacement, offering many of the same features but, crucially, this time from the main search engine, complete with ads. In this case, it seems that service didn't always come first.

4. Google Answers


Google Answers was essentially a way for lazy people to outsource their googling. Users could post questions, offering $2 to $200 for the answer, as supplied by freelance researchers.

The site never had a large uptake " no doubts because people would sooner get their answers for free " and a large amount of the user base was made up of internet trolls.

This, combined with the platform's low visibility and user dissatisfaction that notifications were not dispatched when their questions were answered, is likely what led to the shutdown of the service in late 2006 " leaving many people even more mystified than they were already...

3. Google Buzz


Buzz is still going, but its not certain for how much longer. Intended to allow easy sharing of various online activities between Google users with Gmail accounts, it integrates various Google applications and services. Widely panned by critics and dogged by privacy concerns, it hasnt made much of an impact on the internet social space, and seems to be yet another failed entry into the social networking sphere.

Once again, like the awkward kid at the party, Google fails at networking.

2. Google Lively


If Google had another tagline to go along with Dont be evil, it would probably be Make lots of money " and Lively, the big G's web-based virtual world, didnt.

Second Life was already on the scene for casual users, offered a much bigger world to explore and allowed users to buy and sell items. What's more, Lively wasn't cut out for use by companies that use avatars for collaboration like IBM.

Lively is now very much dead.

1. Google Print Ads & Google Radio Ads


Forays into the world of print and radio ads by an online search engine seem strange enough, but when that search engine is the one that revolutionized online advertising to such an extent that a high Google ranking can make or break a business, it descends into farce.

Google cut the program in early 2009, after little more than 2 years of experimentation. More traditional media must have been devastated " a lifeline of revenue from the online world withdrawn at the last minute.

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14 Responses to “10 Mind-Blowing Google Product Fails”

  1. Rafael Rocha says:

    It's way with fail fast and MVP, Google has too much innovative project

  2. That is the second time this week someone has reintroduced Google Wave into my brain – oh the horror! Probably the WORST platform to attempt to organize information as a result of a collaboration EVER! Thank God they redeem themselves with some pretty good stuff. You can't fault them for that.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      Adele, Google Wave had some of the coolest web page tricks going on but boy, it was long ago that I've been THAT lost in a program.

  3. What about Google Squared? It launched, and then….http://www.google.com/squared

  4. Jon says:

    I liked Google Wave. I suspect a part of it will re-emerge one day in the long awaited new Google social media platform. Although then again, maybe not!

  5. Jon says:

    Having what was almost like a real conversation between several people. I only used it in a small group of friends, but it was interesting to see each type as, just like in a real conversation, someone would start typing their thoughts before another had stopped, and an opinion could change mid-sentence as a result. Conversations like these comments here are more like emails – nobody can interrupt you, everyone has to wait for you to speak (and often 2 people reply at the same time). In Wave everything is visible.

    Helps to me a good typist and not have to look at the keyboard though. One of the funniest things was watching my mate Rich type, it usually took him about 5 attempts to complete a sentence.

  6. Jon says:

    No, do not really use Skype a lot, other than the odd individual chats.

  7. Dan says:

    What about their Wikipedia attempt, Knol?

  8. Anne Reese says:

    I only used Buzz once, didn't really get enamored by it. But hey, why do I still use Wave? Hahaha. I only use it with one of my clients and I think it works for us.

  9. Mark Lincoln says:

    Actually Google Buzz is now useful again! It's an effective way of introducing your Twitter stream to your Google+ Profile.

    It adds a 'Buzz' tab to your profile page that people can use to view your latest posts on Twitter as well as other services connected to Buzz (although I forget which other services there are).

    See mine: https://plus.google.com/u/1/117301083128227203723/buzz