Google has never flinched from killing off projects that weren’t as profitable or relevant as the company expected. Instead of staying quiet about them, Google usually announces which projects it won’t be going forward with.
Embracing the tradition, this year Google is waving goodbyes to six more projects—increasing its failed projects count to a total of 263. Let’s learn more about the projects that are getting axed in 2022, how they started, and why Google is doing so.
1. Android Things
Code-named as Brillo, Google first announced Android Things at Google I/O 2015, but it was only available to the public in 2018. Android Things was an operating system for IoT devices. Essentially, it was an Android OS equivalent for low-powered hardware devices such as smart speakers, smart door locks, and so on.
Originally, its purpose was to allow developers to design apps for IoT devices with existing Android tools. Soon after its release, several OEMs including JBL, Lenovo, and LG Electronics released smart speakers and displays powered by it.
In 2019, Google announced that it’s refocusing Android Things as an OS platform to prioritize smart displays and speakers with built-in Google Assistant. With that announcement, the initial vision of Android Things to support any hardware device has narrowed down to smartphone-class devices.
However, a year later in 2020, Google announced that the platform would stop taking on new projects from January 2021 and would be completely shut down in January 2022. While Google doesn’t say much about the shutdown, it’s probably because the project wasn’t as successful as Google anticipated.
2. Cameos on Google
Google Cameos or Cameos on Google is a video-based Q&A answering app. It launched on the Apple App Store in August 2018 and on the Google Play Store in October 2019. Google Cameos is invite-only, so unless you’re a popular influencer or a celebrity, you won’t have access to the app.
The idea of the app was to avoid the spread of misinformation by giving celebrities access to answer their fans’ questions via short videos. Fans could find these videos below the knowledge panels of the said celebrities.
The app was an extension of Google Posts, a discontinued feature that allowed businesses to post their messages on Google. Following the same road, Google is pulling the plug on Google Cameos too in February 2022, but users can still download those videos until March 2022.
3. G Suite (Legacy Free Edition)
G Suite’s Legacy Free Edition is Google’s offering of its collection of productivity and collaboration apps to schools and businesses.
Introduced in 2006, Google announced its discontinuation in 2012 but didn’t actually go ahead with it. Instead, it stopped offering the free edition to new customers, but the ones that had already signed up could still use the service.
In January 2022, Google emailed G Suite users informing them about the discontinuation of the service (supposedly for real, this time) from May 2022. It further suggested users upgrade to a paid version of G Suite—now rebranded as Google Workspace—to continue using the apps’ premium features.
In the email, Google adds, “Upgrading from your G Suite legacy free edition to Google Workspace will only take you a few short steps and is not disruptive to your end-users. To support you in this transition, you will have discount options for 12 months after July 1, 2022.” On top of that, eligible nonprofits can access Google Workspace at discounted prices.
4. Google Chrome Apps
Almost a decade ago, Chrome wasn’t capable to load resource-heavy websites fast enough. So, to smoothen the experience, it allowed you to download “apps” from the Chrome Web Store.
But as Chrome became more efficient and feature-rich, Google announced in 2016 that it plans to kill the in-browser chrome apps.
The process started in 2017 when the Chrome Apps tab was deleted in the Chrome Web Store. In 2020, Google stopped accepting new apps. And by June 2022, the support will end for all existing Chrome app users for all operating systems.
Google provides a detailed deprecation timeline and says, “This change does not impact support for Chrome Extensions. Google will continue to support and invest in Chrome Extensions on all existing platforms.”
5. Google OnHub
Google OnHub is a mobile app-enabled wireless router introduced in 2016. It was one of the few wireless routers out at the time and could automatically update itself and get security upgrades (which was cool back then). It was marketed as a router that’s “easy to use and built for the future”.
In the years since, Google developed Google Wi-Fi, which is why the company is discontinuing Google OnHub. Since the routers are hardware, they will continue to work indefinitely, but won’t get any more software updates or new features from December 19, 2022.
Google support page mentions the limitations of using OnHub after the service shutdown. It further recommends OnHub users upgrade to new Wi-Fi setups and offers them a 40 percent discount on Nest Wi-Fi on the Google Store.
6. YouTube Originals
YouTube Originals, a part of YouTube, started in 2016 to produce and stream original series, documentaries, movies, and events from YouTube.
It was started as a direct competitor to several streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc. However, YouTube Originals focused more on creating content that featured popular YouTube content creators.
Despite the efforts of Google in producing some great content like Cobra Kai, Liza on Demand, Justin Bieber: Seasons, YouTube originals didn’t take off as expected. On 18th January 2022, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, posted on Twitter about the project’s shutdown.
Although the exact timeline of its end is not clear, Kyncl mentions that they will continue to invest in the original content of YouTube Kids Fund and the Black Voices Fund.
He also mentions that Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, is leaving the company soon, which could have also contributed to the project’s death.
More Projects Join the Google Cemetery
As Google continues to experiment in different areas, it’s obvious that we’re going to see more projects fail over the years. But the knowledge from each project continues to assist the company infinitely.
While some of them, like G Suite and Google OnHub, are rebranded or extended into other technologies, others like Google Chrome Apps, YouTube Originals, Android Things, and Cameos are killed off for good. Regardless of its failed projects, Google boldly continues to step into new territories.
No one is immune to failure, not even the almighty Google. Learn about the Google products that will be axed in 2021.
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