5 Lessons from Failed Google Products

Failed Google Products

How many products of Google can you name? Gmail, Earth, Maps, Shopping, News, YouTube, and maybe ten more. Now, how many failed Google products can you name? There are just as many, and they’ve left lessons aplenty in their wake.

1. Google Answers
It had the potential of Quora.

2. Google Hangouts
It had the potential to be both Facebook Live and WhatsApp.

3. Google Glass
It has the potential to be Snapchat’s Spectacles.

4. Google Notebook
It had the potential to beat EverNote.

5. Google Plus
It could have replaced Snapchat and WhatsApp.

6. Orkut
It could have been Facebook.

Other examples include Wave, Catalogue Search, Page Creator, and Knol.

There are five reasons they failed, all of which are common themes for the failure of digital startups in the MENA region as well.

1. Vision
With so many products and so little time, there was no defined concept on what the bigger picture and impact of these products would be on the ecosystem.

2. Resources
Even though it is considered to be the best on the list, Google Notebook had terrible resource allocation. This alone made it among the top failed Google products that had a viable following which wasn’t enough reason for recognition.

3. Insight
By the fact that the Google Plus is a default installation of Android devices, it should have more success than it does. It is also the default login for YouTube creators and its community. Alas, despite these advantages, the confusing UX is viewed as clunky on the profile page itself. By virtue of being preinstalled on Android devices, it can be viewed as a success, but its lack of engagement with this failed Google product is telling.

4. Focus
Google Plus tried to be a one window solution and never evolved to meet the demands of its users, even to date. The company famously struggled with product portfolio management, eager to play catch up with the new trends, but unclear on the bigger picture. Google Notebook had the most promise in this regard.

5. Image
Another reason commonly attributed to their failure was that by the time these products launched, Google was no longer seemed to be a “new” or “trendy” company. Unlike the present day where companies can enjoy “startup” status for years on end, Google was viewed as a “corporation” by 2005 so none of these introductions was viewed as must haves.

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Hamna Anwar

About the Author Hamna Anwar

Hamna Anwar is the director of innovation at Centric, leading projects around digital startups and helping them achieve commercial success with localised business models. She can be reached on [email protected]