Remember Google’s Labs initiative? It’s all those odd little products and projects and prototypes that Google allows people time to work on for the sake of innovation. If it weren’t for Google Labs you wouldn’t have Google Reader, or Google Maps, or Google Groups, Google Desktop or Gmail.

Those were all products that just didn’t fit with Google’s product line-up at the time. Gmail? Maps? Who would want them provided by Google, right?

Well, now you probably can’t imagine things without them. Google, however, is pulling the plug on this innovative incubator, that has yielded some of its top products in an effort to “streamline” the product portfolio and its development efforts.

That leaves the fate of some sixtyish Google experimental products in doubt. That’s everything from Google Code Search to Sky Maps for Android. Most will likely vanish entirely, while others might be folded into other products.

Labs initiatives that are adjuncts to existing products will stick around, so Gmail Labs and Google Maps Labs will be staying.

Google, it seems, is done with the small risks and moving to higher-stakes, higher-risk projects.

We’re going to keep experimenting and innovating, but we want to do it at a larger scale – so instead of dispersing our efforts across lots of isolated individual products, we’re re-focusing our efforts on projects with global impact, and making even bigger bets there. Our goal is to innovate faster than ever, and with greater impact,” said a company spokesperson.

I wish I’d had a dollar for every time I’d heard that (or its cousin) said. With Google already showing signs that it cannot properly effectively tend to its new Google Plus product, maybe it really does need some savage narrowing of focus just to maintain a grip.

[via Network World]

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Categories: Business, Technology.



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