We are just a few days into the second quarter of 2019, and so far the list of high profile Google products and services that have been killed off has reached epidemic levels. On January 11, Chromecast Audio was retired. On January 15, YouTube annotations were all deleted and will no longer show on videos. February 8 saw the abandonment of Louisville by the Google Fiber internet service. February 13 saw the removal of IoT from Android Things, which is what the platform was for. March 12 reportedly saw a staffing cut for Google's laptop and tablet division. March 13 saw the end of unpopular chat service Allo. March 14 saw the closure of the Spotlight Stories VR studio. March 30 saw the goo.gl URL shortener signup process close. March 31 saw the end of IFTTT support for Gmail. If that list wasn't enough for you, this week we had 2 more product closures.
April 2 saw the end of Google's Inbox email client, which Google claimed to be a new approach to how you send and receive emails. Either the claim was more than what Google was able to deliver, or users didn't like the new approach, because the service never managed to gain the steam that Google had hoped for. Luckily for Inbox users, Google has other email clients to choose from, including the default Android client and the official Gmail client.
April 2 also saw the end of Google+. There was no transition plan for this service. Instead, it represents Googe's complete abandonment of generalized social networking. Again. Google+ was flawed in concept from the beginning and suffered from the heavy hand of Google, who seemed mad that people didn't like it. In their anger, they tried to force users to adopt the platform, integrating YouTube, Picasa, and more into the platform. Inevitably those integrations were reversed, leaving rather large holes in the platform. Somehow, it took a security breach to finally close it down.
Google likely sees these closures as the cost of doing business. Sometimes you build a product and it doesn't work out. When it doesn't, there is no sense in continuing to spend money developing a product that people don't want. The problem is, with a company as large as Google, this many closures in a short span can cause irreparable damage. That is what is starting to happen to Google.
Participating in the Google ecosystem requires trust in that system. In the future, when Google launches a new product, potential product users will be faced with a new condition to consider: will Google get bored with this new investment and eventually abandon it? Is it worth investing your time into a new Google product with the lingering potential of an eventual shutdown?
The Google ecosystem is a very different experience from Apple, who infrequently shuts down a product or service, at least without a transition plan to something similar or better. Even in the face of complete consumer indifference Apple continues producing products. While it might be a little laughable that they are still headstrong into the HomePod a year into the product, the attitude creates confidence in the ecosystem. When people buy into an Apple product or service, there is little fear that the line will be abandoned.