It has been nine years since Google debuted its experimental website where it dumped prototype products for netizens to play with. But the company has now announced the end-of-the-line for its Labs project. The ad broker's CEO Larry Page hinted last week that he would slash and burn (or, in his words, "simplify and streamline") …
I love labs..... very sad to hear its at an end.
Innovation, we've heard of it
Famous Labs project yet to "graduate" (or turn into actual products in Google-speak): Flu trends, Google Googles, Google Correlate, Swiffy (Flash to HTML5), Google Body...
Wonder what will happen to these.
Only 12 years old, it's amazing how quickly Google is becoming a company that shuns innovation.
re: Google Goggles.
The Google announcement clearly states that Android Labs projects will continue to be available in the Android Market.
Clearly? More like "fuzzily states"
First the announcement says "many of the Labs products that are Android apps [..]", not all. Then Google Goggles is hardly an Android app, all the actual work is done on Google's servers and there's a iOS interface too.
Either way, even if it doesn't get the chop now I guess this means that any work at making it useful is over and Goggles will remain as is until final termination.
".. that move didn't work on Wave"
It did, there was plenty of interest in it when it first hit the ground. Where it fell down was the simple fact that it was shit, and solved a problem no-one had, or could even understand.
Let's see if + hits the same rocky shores. Early signs aren't so good, with "so what do I do with it" being the reactions of most early adopters.
Spot on with the Wave assessment
But I don't think the same will happen to Google+ because it's a brilliant way to share photos and video.
The marketing and tech people are playing with it at the moment, with others poking their noses in via invites and then lapsing fairly quickly. I'm a techy marketing person and so I used it to share a big gallery of family birthday pictures via Picasa yesterday. I'm not doing that through Facebook because frankly, the galleries are sh*t.
As long as a decent sized group of people starts throwing content at Google+, which others want to see then it will work. I reckon that's happening already and will accelerate.
RE: .. that move didn't work on Wave
@Shonko Kid. While it did make me snigger when you said "the simple fact that it was shit" I have to disagree with you about it solving a problem no-one had.
Most people tend to use their inbox as an archive of everything they have ever communicated about + a document store (attachments) + a TODO list (using stars, reminders, etc). We try to organise our mail into folders, or add labels or stars or mark some things as important and other things as bulk, or notifications. Not to mention spam.
You end up referencing out-of date versions of documents, and this is a huge problem.
You get into email "discussions" with groups of people, and it becomes hard to track who said what and you end up quoting people and putting in the answers in-line, like some kind of a forum.
A lot of people use it to store contact details, as they only get them sent in an email (someone's phone number for instance) and they never get around to copying it to an address book.
May people store photos in their mail boxes, and never get around to moving them out. And really struggle to find them again 1 year later.
Email has become fragmented into so many seperate use cases, it can be a real nightmare.
So, it's not a problem that no-one has... we all seem to muddle by, and use different ways to get around the inherent problems of email. (And lose loads of stuff. )
It's just that Google came up with a solution which many people just didn't understand. It was way too much of a leap from what they where used to.
Personally I kinda liked Wave, but never found another single person who grokked it, and therefore never got past the "What's this for?" experiment. Shame really, as it seemed like a really good way of collaborating on projects.
Perhaps Google will try again by adding those things into GMail and allowing you to move to something wave-like in more steps. I can't see anyone else innovating in this area.
Most people what?
I use my inbox for incoming mail, and that's all.
Have I been missing something for the past couple of decades?
No, I think the problem with Wave was that they just turned it on for everyone with a Google account and when you logged in proudly announced that "Wave was going to make it easy to share everything you do - we've turned it on for you now!".
So the first thing I did was to start looking at how to turn it off, because it really wasn't clear *what* it was sharing by default and because I didn't want to share anything anyway.
I did eventually turn it on for a couple of tech sites that used it, but then turned it off again a few months later because they only published about one in ten stories through it and RSS was a much better way of keeping track.
IIRC you had to have a GMail address to use it, which just created a further barrier to take up, no-one I know will bother with a service that needs another e-mail address, they already feel they have too many (A home one & and work one! OMG, how will I cope?).
Ultimately, Wave didn't offer anything special that would encourage people to switch. G+ has this interesting grouping system which will make it easy to share stuff with the right people rather than the "no-one", "everyone you know" and "entire world" model of existing services - yes I do know that most services do offer finer control, but they're a massive pain to operate.
If all the patent crap being thrown Google's way is partly behind this. Google seemed to be one of the few companies not interested in patenting everything they came up with, but now because of the ridiculous patents being granted to everyone else they are finding they are having to patent as well. Taking Google Labs offline means all that stuff goes underground are more patentable.
Just a thought.
The patents system certainly seems to stifle rather than encourage innovation.
I would think that once something is exposed to the general public prior to patenting, it would be very difficult to patent since it is not viewed or used or studied under an NDA or other IP-protecting agreements.
SImilarly, with publishing (at least in the USA), once you publish a book or piece of written matter, it is not easy, maybe even not permissible, to obtain a normal copyright certification via the US Library of Congress. One might have to chop up the work in snippets, self-attribute it, and spread it across one's own new, derivative work to reinforce ownership.
The patent system stifles *open* innovation. It encourages proprietary innovation.
Innovation is still happening, they are just doing it in private.
but never found another single person who grokked it
Perhaps you put them off by using words like 'grok'?
RE: but never found another single person who grokked it
Interesting. I like the word. I though Reg readers would too. Clearly I'm wrong about that. I don't have another word to sum up what I'm trying to say so well. I picked it up from geek / hacker friends years ago, who where even geekier and hackerier than I. I won't do it again. That wasn't really the point of what I was trying to say though. Sorry.
Geekier then you
Meaning they have actually read a book?
The phrase was coined by Robert Heinlein in "Stranger in a Strange Land." Within the story, it was taken from the (fictional) Martian language to mean a kind of holistic understanding.
Having read the book (I recommend the posthumously published unabridged version, although it's not a title for the puritan amongst us), I do know the meaning. On the other hand, outside of the people familiar with that work and the non-reading psudo-geek (how can you be a geek and not read, really?) community it has no meaning.
The problem with neologisms is your audience may not know it, so you either have to explain the term, or let your audience not fully understand what you mean. I'm sure there are trekkies who will want to spout off random klingon, but at least they realize they will not be understood by the general populous.
but at least they realize...
...they will not be understood by the general populous.
How come the corporate jargon people don't ever reach that point of intelligence?
I have no idea. You'd think Big Blue's "buzzword bingo" commercial would have been a good clue!
Grok and grokked, from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Henlein.
Neither necessary nor sufficient
Since SiSL was published, "grok" and its lexemes have been widely used in a variety of subcultures, including of course SF and computing but well outside those too. You needn't have read the book to be familiar with it. It's listed in current editions of many dictionaries, including I believe the OED.
And conversely, you can have read SiSL and not be a fan of "grok". I found the novel often purile and rarely very interesting; and grok, as a concept, has little to recommend it over better-pedigreed English terms such as "understand" and "comprehend". Particularly since few people seem to be interested in trying to employ it in anything like the (rather vague and unproductive) way in which Heinlein described it.
I loved Labs...
... Especially some really funky features in GMail (and GMail for Apps). Oh well.
re: Labs in Gmail.
Apparently it does not affect the Labs sections that are already inside products - it is just the main Labs website. So Labs in Maps and Gmail will continue.
Look! A shark!
Google just jumped it.
Google jumped the shark?
I for one would appreciate it if Google actually polished up its core services and got rid of the neglected ones... like maybe Groups, Reader, and definitely Buzz.
Labs is basically a place to *advertise* new ideas, but most people don't even look at it. There's plenty of innovation happening *outside* Google, though.
Google + for Google Apps
Maybe now they can put some effort into releasing Google + for Google Apps.
Putting a lick of corporate paint across it's offerings and dumping those that don't fit. Did they nick that idea of the BBC? Earlier this year they did the same thing.
Admittedly the two corporations are completely different, but is this a trend we're likely to see across over parts of the web?
Innoavation always involve risks.
When a company releases a product/service and its value is immediately clear, then that company is merely being clever.
When a company releases a product/service and no one knows what to think because its exploring uncharted waters, then that company is being innovative.
I'd strongly argue that the whole Google Wave experiment is proof that Google is a company that isn't afraid to innovate.
Jumping the shark is sooooo 20th Century...
... these days the geeknoscenti prefer to say : "Nuked the fridge"
If you need to ask then sorry, you just aren't geek enough.