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Google Shutting Down Labs Experiment

David Gilbert


Logo - Google Labs

Google has been derided in the past for having too many fingers in too many pies, but it is now trying to set that right by streamlining - and Google Labs is one of the casualties.

Last week Google CEO, Larry Page used the phrase “more wood behind fewer arrows” to describe his company’s new strategy of focusing their considerable resources on less projects, and an announcement today of Google Labs being shut down seems to back that up.

While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead,” Bill Coughran, SVP for Research and Systems Infrastructure at Google said. Google describes Labs as “a playground where our more adventurous users can play around with prototypes of some of our wild and crazy ideas.”

Google Labs closure

While a lot of the Labs experiments will be ending, some will continue. “We don't have any plans to change in-product experimentation channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We'll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products,” Coughran said.

Google Labs has given birth to the likes of Google Reader, Goggles, Maps, Social Search and iGoogle over the years. The Mountain View company has insisted that the closure of Labs won’t affect the famous “20 per cent time” at the company, where all employees are encouraged to spend 20 per cent of their working week “on projects that aren’t necessarily in [their] job descriptions.”

At an earnings call last week, reporting record profits, Larry Page said: “Greater focus has also been another big feature for me this quarter — more wood behind fewer arrows. Last month, for example, we announced that we will be closing Google Health and Google PowerMeter. We’ve also done substantial internal work simplifying and streamlining our product lines. While much of that work has not yet become visible externally, I am very happy with our progress here.”

While we have to agree that Google needed a bit more focus in terms of the number of projects it was putting its efforts into, the closure of Google Labs seems like a step backwards and could result in less innovation from Google in the future.

Source: Google Blog

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