Five greatest Google failures

The Internet has many movers and shakers; companies that the masses look to with open eyes and baited breath whenever a new product is released. However the top dog, big cheese, head honcho; the supreme being of the online world has to be Google.

This success has come about largely through its search engine, as well as other ventures that we'll come to at a later date. What we're going to concentrate on in this feature, though, is the unmitigated failures, disasters and white elephants.

It is possible that these blunders have come about by Google stretching itself a little too far in an attempt for web domination - although failure does not appear to be that much of an issue, as Google is more than happy to buy out any company who looks to be delivering a better product; where it either continues its success or gets the kiss of death. Maybe Google should take some of its own advice; as it states in its corporate information under "our philosophy": "It's best to do one thing really, really well".

So without further ado, in our humble opinion, here are five of the greatest Google failures.

Google Catalogs

To all intents a purposes Google Catalogs was one of the search giant's first attempts at branching out into the realms of retail, as it tried to make some ready cash.

Venturing into territory occupied by well-established brands, such as Amazon, Google built a separate search engine, which placed companies' catalogs online; it could then be laden with advertising placements and links out to online retailers.

Unfortunately the service never really took off, remaining in beta from its birth in 2001 to its demise in 2009.

Google Wave

Strictly speaking we're nailing down the coffin before Google Wave has drawn its last breath, but Google Wave has been to its physician, and the diagnoses doesn't look good.

The idea behind Google Wave was, and we suppose still is, to provide a real-time collaboration and communication tool within a users' web browser and featured some pretty decent functions like character-by-character live typing and the ability to drag and drop files from the desktop. A pretty innovative effort all round really.

However despite the enthusiasm shown by Google and a few loyal fans (Pocket-lint team included) Wave never really received the adoption levels hoped for. Subsequently in early August 2010 Google announced that it would no longer be developing Google Wave, although it would be supporting it until the end of the year.

Google Video Player

This attempt by Google to strike at the heart of the online video sector is a classic example of Google's "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" attitude towards companies.

Although Google was still running its video service when it bought YouTube in 2006, clearly YouTube was the hit that its own Google Video player wasn't.

The failure of it was blamed on a variety of things, which included the fact you couldn't transfer video content to portable devices, along with poor organization of video and a confusing paid content system. All this culminated in Google pulling the service in August 2007 - luckily it had YouTube to fall back on.

Incidentally, one interesting quote to come out of the buying of YouTube was Google chief executive Eric Schmidt saying:

"The YouTube team has built an exciting and powerful media platform that complements Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".

Anyone else find Google's mission a little worrying?

Google Knol

The concept of Knol, at its core, appears to be a method of bringing together lots of different users who would gradually build up a definitive article on the various world topics/debates/questions. This in itself seems like a pretty lofty goal, and since its launch in July 2008 it's struggled.

It would perhaps help if people were actually reading the site, as it seems that even with the incentive of earning money through AdSense revenues for articles written, participation still seems hard to come by. It's quite possible that if you're going to write anything even remotely in-depth, you'll want some kind of guarantee of revenue, as definitive works notoriously take up a good deal of time.

Google Buzz

The reception of Google's attempt to crack the world of social networking was, it has to be said, a little mixed.

The main problem is that it runs within Gmail - and was an opt-out service which created angry feedback from users (think Facebook) - meaning that uptake was going to be an issue from the outset. Add to this the fact that it's unavailable within corporate accounts, meaning potentially you could end up with two Gmail accounts open - which it has to be said is pretty inefficient - and its clear to see problems before you've got down to the nitty gritty of the service.

The interface itself, doesn't seem too bad, but Buzz, at the moment, seems to be more about content providers using it as a sounding block as opposed to individuals using it as a dynamic forum. We could be a little premature, but it would be surprising if Google Buzz, in its present form, carried on for very much longer.

All that said, clearly Google has launched more than its fair share of successes, and so in the interest of being balanced we'll make sure we follow this feature up with a roundup of what we believe to be the search giant's greatest hits. Stay tuned.

Have you used any of the above Google services? Do you feel there are other Google gaffes that should have made the list? Please let us know in the comments below.