Google is one of the most successful companies in the world. Last year alone they pulled in $50 billion in revenue and their stock is continually setting new all time high records. Despite their fantastic successes, Google, like any other company, has produced its fair share of failures.
Products like Google Wave, Google Buzz and most recently, Google Reader have all come and gone. Some, like Wave, were hyped, but never managed to grab a foothold. Others, (like Reader)were popular only in a small subset of the population. Google needs big numbers to sell ads, so Reader's closure wasn't overly surprising.
Ars Technica looked at the statistics behind Google products that both succeeded and failed. Some of what they found was fairly obvious. For example services that make more money have a greater chance of staying supported, no big surprise there. More interesting was the fate of services that relied on social media.
It was determined that social services like Wave and Buzz were the most likely to fail. Social mediums are continuously hyped as having more room for growth than any other business online. While certain companies can see fantastic, explosive growth, (see Facebook and Twitter). Many companies struggle to gain a following, and those that do struggle to successfully monetize their huge followings (again, see Facebook and Twitter.) Most of Google's socially awkward networks simply failed to thrive.
Some were very interesting ideas that gained a lot of hype pre-release. Wave was proclaimed to be "what email would look like if it were invented today." Unfortunately, like many Google products, it had a sharp learning curve that casual users simply couldn't invest the time to learn. Buzz and a few others were just "me too" versions of existing services that had no compelling innovations worth leaving the old service for.
So what does all this mean for our current users? Well its unlikely that Google Plus will get shut down anytime soon. While it doesn't have a following quite like Facebook's. It is growing fast and its consumer appeal is evident in the "share this if you care about 'Insert pitiful thing here' posts that have been slowly migrating into my feed. It does make me nervous about Babel. All the information we have gotten so far has indicated a massive attempt at social communication integration.
How many of you have had a favorite service unceremoniously dumped by Google? I know quite a few of our readers were peeved over the whole Reader fiasco. Did anybody ever really like Wave or Buzz? Let us know in the comments below!