For some spooky Halloween times, take a midnight stroll through Google’s graveyard!
There’s a lot of hidden terrors in there that time has forgotten.
This list is a really neat blast from the past. It’d be cool to see a category for companies that were literally killed by google (e.g. Kiko, a calendar app made just before Google Calendar came out, which Google squashed like a bug).
I don’t think even Google can get away with literally killing competitors. Yet.
Depends on the country and if they use third parties that distance their brand from the act. See Betchel Corp vs Bolivian citizens that wanted drinking water as an example. Maybe Coca Cola in Colombia vs union people.
If anything, I’m surprised at how civil things normally are with rich companies. Probably just because they can use lobbyists and lawyers to get away with most stuff. The failures are usually a drop in their bucket of profit.
Perhaps not competitors, but certainly people who get in the way of profits get killed, eg see the case of Shell in Nigeria: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8090493.stm
Hundreds of activists are killed every year, we just don’t hear about it much.
You joke but I recall there was (is?) a “storage graveyard” in their Chicago office filled with CDs, casette tapes, floppies, and other physical media.
Hi, everyone! I’m the creator of Killed by Google. We’re an open source project tracking Google’s dead or dying products. I’m happy to answer any questions.
So, did you get a big traffic spike from Lobsters? I also posted about this on Mastodon, but I don’t think it picked up quite so much steam there.
I discovered it was posted after a friend tagged me on a local community Slack channel. Quick look at analytics tells me Lobsters is the leading referral today (37% of referral traffic), but I imagine this audience is more likely to have ad/analytics blockers installed so that number may actually be higher.
How many unique hits?
Today has about 4,000 unique users so far. 85% more than yesterday.
October has been rather busy with over 100k users the vast majority of them are new users. Rolling average is about 50k users every thirty days.
Thanks for the info. It suggest a few thousand came from Lobsters.
Much of our audience are passive readers who may be active elsewhere or just occasionally here. I’m always curious how many there are in general or following specific topics.
Note that this is only counting traffic directly from Lobsters with a referrer - we also send traffic from our account on Twitter and people reposting our links elsewhere or sharing person-to-person. We average 18.8k unique IPs per day, 19.8k on weekdays; and have seen a total of 210.6k unique IPs over the last 25 full days. (And see this footnote for a rough estimate of what our traffic is worth in dollars.)
Quick daily counts of unique IPs from the current nginx log file (file rotated during 2019-10-05, so 06 to 31 is complete days); I’m including the command in case I goofed + as a starting point for other queries:
$ for i in $(seq -f "%02g" 6 31); do echo -n "2019-10-$i,"; grep "$i/Oct/2019" lobste.rs.access.log-20191006 | cut -d' ' -f 1 | sort | uniq | wc -l; done
Thanks for creating this! One thing that would be helpful is a link to the announcement claiming the sunset. One example is Google Hire. The list claims it will sunset in Sept 2020 - but I can’t find any announcement from Google about this! Where did you get that date?
Google has the date posted on the Hire site. Thanks for pointing that link though. It appears Wikipedia editors decided to redirect what used to be an actual page.
More generally, I ran into a tough question of “What do I link to as a source?” I decided that linking to Google itself (even their blogs) should be the last resort because they tend to 404, redirect, etc over time. To avoid link rot, I prioritized external sources in this fashion:
That makes perfect sense, thanks again for creating such a helpful resource - I’ll need to check it often :)
What web server does Netlify use or do you use on Netlify?
Netlify uses a “Multi Cloud” solution, but from everything I can tell they run this site on GCP using the static files generated in the build process. Beyond that? Not sure what their exact server setup is.
I can say that Netlify was a breeze to understand and join. It took all of 20 minutes to move from GitHub pages.
Thanks for the reply! Took me down a fun rabbit hole.
I’m still sore about Google Code. It was clean and quick, I liked the way it worked, and then it got canned and we had to hustle off to Github. Getting burned by GC has made me very careful about ever relying on Google for infrastructure. I suppose I don’t pay them, and I should expect that, but every so often you even hear horror stories from people who do.
I think they were upset because they backed mercurial over git for far too long. They lost their ego position and google code was always an ego project since they didn’t use it internally.
If they really had wanted to help developers, they would have released their internal system as open source and let other devs use what they use.
Hey, @durin42, is this why you guys got rid of Google Code? You backed Mercurial for far too long?
Ha, no. That absolutely had nothing to do with it. It was pretty much entirely due to the high cost of fighting abuse. It still makes me sad. We were a fairly small team, and fighting abuse is hard. I stand by the way we executed the turndown (lobbying for that was hard) as the gold standard for shutting down a user-content-hosting service. We even still have some skeleton crew staffing on the turned-down system for handling DMCA takedowns (they still trickle in even after all these years!) and the like.
What kinds of abuse? Did people just use it as a download dumping ground?
The turndown was probably as good as could have been expected under the circumstances, so kudos there, but it still sucked hard when it happened.
Yep. We saw all kinds of abuse, including things I wouldn’t have predicted. Obvious stuff like people hosting their mp3s and pirated ebooks, but also weird stuff like trying to spam links to your hospital in China. I swear that last example is a real thing we saw.
Back in 99, while still relatively unknown, google was already my go-to search engine, due to offering straight to the point UI with no clutter. One day, I noticed a “mail” link below the search box. They offered an email service. Since google was not widespread at that time, I went ahead and created a mailbox with my first name as a handle. No sufix or any other disambiguation, just email@example.com. While the concept was good, offering a clean UI, the execution was terrible. Full of bugs and virtually no spam mitigation of any kind, while other email providers already had all sorts of effective anti-spam.
Each time I had to tel my email address to anybody, they would make a funny face. what’s that? Goo-gah??? That’s a new one.
The university I attended to provided mailing list for all sorts of purposes such as book sharing, parties, marketplace. I subscribed to a few of those. Often, other subscribers would have set up auto-replies on their mailboxes due to vacation. These would auto-reply to mailing list emails they subscribed, creating an infinite loop of email replies. Everyone’s mail service would detect this and block those emails, except for my lousy google mailbox.
Eventually, I abandoned that mailbox and stuck with the one provided by the school. Over the last 20 years, I have tried searching for traces of this service but there is no reference to it I can find. Lists like the one on this topic never go that far back. No blog post, no web forum or mailing archive, I have never found anyone that remembers this service. Understandably, google wasn’t proud of it. They went on to build their empire the years after, releasing killer product after killer product, gmail being probably the most significant seconded only by their web search.
Hah, that’s wild. I imagine it’s pretty much impossible to find information about it now due to all the keyword pollution from references to gmail. No luck with archive.org? Their archive goes back pretty far.
They also used to have googlemail.com, which was branding they only used in Germany and the UK. Some sort of trademark dispute. It all goes to gmail now.
No luck. I’ve been there, clicking around through that time period but the damn link doesn’t pop up. I suspect one of the following:
Once can only speculate.
But as you say, keyword pollution makes this impossible to trace. Kind of bizarre though.
As a last ditch effort, you might try contacting Paul Buchheit, who was more or less the creator of GMail. It looks like he might be active on Twitter.
My guess is that’s an early version of GMail. Paul Bucheit said he was working on GMail as a side project for many years before it launched. And silently launching a service with a link sounds like something he would do :)
It was a few years before though. The landscape around email changed quite a bit during that time.
Great, guess the email link on my site has been broken for a year!
The timing for some of the deaths is pretty interesting. Looks like those Firefox extensions for syncing data were all killed in 2008, which was the year that Chrome was released.
I would like a site “Killed by switching to a subscription model”, which is the current plague on macOS. One of the many reasons for me to evacuate the macOS ecosystem. Every app seems to be quicksand nowadays, one day you had a perpetual license with reasonable upgrade prices, the next day they switch to a subscription and suck $5 per month out of you if you want to continue getting updates.
For me it’s related to this site, since it shows that if it is not FLOSS software (SAAS or proprietary local software), they can pull the carpet from under you any day.
I also dislike subscription models but developers say they make more money with them, even when you allow time for people to leave the app. A positive side of subscription models for consumers is that developers are not forced to hold onto new features until a new big release they can charge again for.
My issue is subscription services is that they’re too expensive - usually $5 a month. Even if that’s your only subscription it feels like a lot vs. something like Drafts which charges $20/year (while having a very good “free” tier). That said, the popularity of subscriptions services has led me to use less apps or be less likely to “switch” apps out of boredom, which I think is good for my productivity.
I also dislike subscription models but developers say they make more money with them, even when you allow time for people to leave the app.
I think that they are setting themselves up for failure. One day, Apple will come with a subscription model for apps, like they did for games now with Apple Arcade. Some companies will fall for it, because it gives a high guaranteed income for an application. And then it’ll suck the oxygen out of the app ecosystem, outside a few apps that people really need to work (e.g. Adobe apps), people will just use what is in ‘Apple App Arcade’ since that’s the way to reduce the number of subscriptions to just one.
Of course, Apple could do the same thing if subscription apps didn’t exist. But by switching to subscriptions, app developers made software subscriptions the new normal. But it’s just too lucrative for Apple, Microsoft, and others not to step into this market and steamroll everything into one subscription. (Or maybe they will even tier their subscriptions into Student, Home user, and Pro, with different prices and app selections.)
That’s an interesting theory because SetApp already exists and, if its longevity is any indication… it’s working. That said, these are all independent, usually small-team apps - the same kind I purchase with a one-time payment.
I miss their iWeb desktop product. I was recently teaching my kid to make a web site and just wanted a simple “make a file, ftp it to a server” tool and struggled to find a real one. I would have settled for FrontPage. Searching revealed a ton of web sites that provide drag and drop interfaces and host sites in proprietary formats for the low price of $8/month/forever. It’s a stupid proposition and regression from even the geocities days. $100/year is worse than paying $50 once and a few dollars a year to host.
Ended up using vscode for raw text editing and FileZilla, so we had to spend more time on plumbing than I wanted.
This is how I initially helped my dad make webpages in the early 2000s. Dreamweaver (which was somewhat affordable for academic uses) and ws_ftp. Once a flat fee, and he used it for many years thereafter. Later, I just installed MoinMoin somewhere, customized the theme a bit. And the MoinMoin syntax was easy for him to pick up. He asks me a question once a year or so, so it’s really a low-maintenance solution.
Neocities has a drag and drop interface. Looks like a lot of people are using it to teach HTML classes, probably for this reason.
thought this would be about drones
I think this has become a meme now, so that Google launches and turn-downs are scrutinized more heavily.
The best way to tell if a Google product will remain is to see if it has 500 million+ users and to see if it’s an enterprise offering. Small, consumer-focused apps make no money and are easy to kill.
I paid the one time fee to get my phone number moved onto Google Voice before I left the US. It’s still on hangouts, and now I see hangouts is getting the axe. It’s a garbage VoIP service anyway, and none of my contacts load correctly anymore since Google+ went away (I don’t have a gmail account anymore and there’s a bug where when g+ went away, it made your contacts unsearchable, even though they appear right there in the chat list, unless you have Gmail too).
I’m tired of Google and all their crap. I’m glad I self host my own Calendar, Contacts and e-mail.
Still miss MyTracks on my phones. Haven’t found any as easy to use and actually useful way of recording hikes, where the GPS data as easily can be used with Gmaps.
That’s a massive amount of projects. I think this shows that Google is as enthusiastic towards starting new projects as it is towards killing old ones, which can be both good and bad in its own way.
I’ve read many accounts from Google devs over the years complaining that Google’s performance review process strongly rewards starting projects but only weakly rewards maintaining them, especially if that maintenance isn’t quantified. (Example, with confirmations.) This might be a case of poor incentives, or - Google operates at enormous scale: a product can get millions of users, including many passionate fans, and still be considered a failure.
More important than this being the case for regular individual contributor devs, it’s also the case for higher management. It seems like the way you get from eng manager to VP is to keep launching new products. You launch a product, you get promoted, do a bigger one, get promoted again. No one demotes you for presiding over a product that “only” gets like 50 million users and therefore is not “Google-scale” (revenue-wise) and needs to be shut down. This is what happened to Inbox, for example.
RIP Picasa and Google Wave. Oh, and Reader.
I loved using Inbox but sadly they killed the app
I used Songza for about a year before it was bought by Google and rolled into Google Play Music. All of the old playlists are still available, but the new ones are all maintained by algorithm, not by experts. And the choice of playlists that it offers you (by time of day, mood, weather, activity) is over-trained, so you pretty much see only the same few ones offered regardless of context.
Man, I miss Angular 1.
Can anyone elaborate on Angular being killed? I’m not big in the front end world, but I thought Angular was here to stay, along with the likes of React and others. Why is Angular going LTS? Am I just missing some other context?
Angular and AngularJS are two separate projects. AngularJS was the original framework, and Angular was a complete rewrite and departure from the original. AngularJS was being actively developed separately for a while.
So, Angular is here to stay. AngularJS is in LTS and won’t have new development going forward.
Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying.
Just you wait till they start adding people to that list.
Who am I kidding, it has already happened. For some definition of killing.