5 Google Products That Failed and What Startups Can Learn From It


It’s hard to imagine that a corporation with many resources can fail. With an estimated 172 million uniques monthly to their homepage, Google can (and often do) promote their products. to place it into perspective, advertisers paid an estimated $3.5 million for a 30 second spot in Super Bowl XLVI, which got 111.3 million pairs of eyeballs. So how can any of their products possibly fail?

In this post we’ll lay out five products Google made that have flopped. those we’ve included here have officially been discontinued by Google. we’ll also give our opinion on why they failed, and what we will learn from them.

1. Google Video Player

Google Video Player

It would be unfair to call Google Video a failure. Google Video launched in late January 2005 and 22 months later Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, prompting some to call it a nasty acquisition.

Now YouTube could also be worth $45.7 billion. Any video you would like to seek out on Google Video are often found on YouTube, all the videos have transferred over.

So Google Video isn’t necessarily a failure, but Google Video Player failed. it had been kept around for 10 months after the YouTube acquisition then discontinued. It lasted two years in total.

What Startups Can Learn From It:

Google Video wasn’t a nasty concept. It allowed people to download videos from Google Video and watch videos fully screen, something a touch harder back in 2007. the matter was that no-one needed another video player. it had been nice to possess , rather than something that folks needed. Bottom line: it didn’t solve any problems.

2. Google Answers

The Google Answers concept is sweet – a user pays a researcher for a solution to an issue they need , the researcher gets paid and Google gets a cut of it. It works for all parties. It seemed, however, that the majority people chose to ask their questions on forums or Yahoo! Answers, choosing the free route and trusting that the responses are valid.

With the addition of Quora, where users select the response that they find most valid and sufficient, it makes it difficult to offer an individual a reason to buy a solution .

While Yahoo! Answers appears more sort of a teenage chat room and declines in traffic, people are turning to look , Quora (early adopters) and asking friends on Facebook—all for free of charge.

Google Answers lasted 4 years and eight months.

What Startups Can Learn From It:

If there are alternatives to your product that are free, you’ll have a difficult time getting traction. If it’s possible for a corporation to profitably offer a product almost like yours for free of charge, you’ll be in trouble. Any successful company will get a competitor which will undercut your prices.

Google Answers faced a free competitor like Yahoo! Answers, forums and even Google search itself, all of which are free. most of the people don’t want to pay if they don’t need to. it’s going to be helpful to supply a freemium service.

3. Google Buzz

Google Buzz

Google Buzz was essentially Google’s clone to Twitter. It integrated right into Gmail and allowed users to posts links, photos, status updates, and videos. Generally, Google doesn’t had best if they’re not first to plug , and this was one among those products.

Google Buzz lasted 22 months.

What Startups Can Learn From It:

There wasn’t any major improvement over Twitter. the excitement interface was more crowded, didn’t have a personality limit and had major privacy concerns from the very beginning. People had no reason to maneuver from Twitter to Buzz and it didn’t have enough advantage over Twitter.

Simply integrating Buzz into Gmail wasn’t enough. The privacy concerns surrounding Buzz and Gmail didn’t help. While Google did address these concerns, the shortage of competitive advantage over Twitter cause low user adoption, forcing Google to pack up Buzz.

4. Google Wave

Google Wave

It’s tough to elucidate during a sentence what Google Wave was. Google explained it as “A wave may be a live, shared space on the online where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.”

One of Wave’s developers said, “Wave is what email would appear as if if it were invented today.”

Google had high hopes for Wave, but it did not cross the chasm.

Google Wave lasted 15 months.

What Startups Can Learn From It:

Wave didn’t launch as an MVP. it had been crammed with many features that Google assumed people wanted. it had been a posh product that required an investment of a user’s time just to know how it works.

Hyped launches don’t matter, and it some cases are often a detriment to the merchandise. for nearly any business, it’s better to start out small and launch as an MVP. Wave may need worked for the tech crowd, but beyond that it left users with a collective yawn.

5. Google Notebook

As a fanatical note taker, i used to be thrilled when Google began offering Google Notebook. I wasn’t proud of the outdated Microsoft Notepad. Notepad and located Google Notebook to be a downgrade. the planning was a serious disappointment and that we found it far more difficult to use. Google did offer a couple of features like clipping of sites with a browser extension and therefore the sharing of notes.

It’s tough to mention how popular a note taking application could have gotten. Google made a smooth transition from Notebook into the now popular Google Docs.

Google Notebook lasted 5 years and 4 months.

What Startups Can Learn From It:

Why is Google Notebook a failure while Evernote may be a success? Evernote has had consistent growth in traffic thanks to their support of multiple platforms-much like Dropbox.

You can access your notes from almost any device.

Additionally, Evernote’s interface is far more user friendly. They also leave voice recordings.

They’ve streamlined nicely with the increase of smart phones and tablets. Evernote filled a requirement that folks had. OS apps like Windows Notepad or Apple Notes couldn’t sync to any device.

Windows Notepad or Google Notebook is great if you’re only by your computer all the time. most of the people aren’t anymore and wish to access their notes from anywhere. Evernote has taken that problem and lots of others and is now taking advantage of it.

Google Notebook wasn’t a nasty concept; it just didn’t go far enough in helping the user in their day-to-day life.

Let’s re-evaluate Some Google Successes


Around the time of Gmail’s launch, the typical inbox size was around 4 megabytes. it had been a drag for several people, as their inbox spaced reached its limit quickly. Google solved this problem for people during a big way, offering 1GB at launch. it had been so surprised at the time that a lot of thought it had been an April Fool’s day prank. As if the rise in space for storing wasn’t enough, Google made a powerful interface.


People thought at the time of Chrome’s launch, “Why can we need another web browser?”

Turns out that it doesn’t matter if it’s another product, but rather the development over the incumbents that matters. Chrome was quite improvement it had been (and is) much faster and offered a cleaner interface than the browsers that were currently on the market.


Free document collaboration within the cloud has saved people that don’t want to buy Microsoft Office or aren’t conscious of any open source solutions. It solved problems and are some things people want, which is that the ultimate recipe for fulfillment .

Some Final Words

Before his death, Steve Jobs gave advice to Google CEO Larry Page, telling him to trim the fat out of the merchandise line. Hopefully, Page will heed this recommendation . At the time of this writing, Google has 46 separate products.

Focus is vital during a startup, and it’s difficult to focus if you’ve got 46 products. Focus is about saying no. it might be advantageous for both large companies and startups to follow Jobs’ advice. it might cause tons fewer failures.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo is a blogger, you’ll find him on Twitter here.

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