A day after Larry Page hinted that Google would “continue to simplify and streamline our products going forward” Google has announced that it will kill off its Twitter-like microblogging site, Google Buzz, “in a few weeks.”
Google’s Vice President of Product, Bradley Horowitz, wrote today, “In a few weeks we’ll shut down Google Buzz and the Buzz API, and focus instead on Google+. While people obviously won’t be able to create new posts after that, they will be able to view their existing content on their Google Profile, and download it using Google Takeout.”
The site launched in February 2010 to a blaze of controversy when it made users’ contact information visible to the public. After a number of court cases and investigation by the FTC Google paid out $8.5 million to online privacy organisations and is now subject to “independent privacy audits” for 20 years.
“So why retire Buzz now? Well, we think the time has come for us to focus our energy on projects that will have the most impact to the most users. And creating these great products requires great focus. With the majority of Buzz users now here on Google+, it became obvious that all of our attention should be focused on this community. ”
Buzz might have been a costly site for Google but Horowitz says that its introduction, and the controversy that followed it, refocused the company’s view on user privacy,
“We learned privacy is not a feature… it is foundational to the product. And this awareness gave us the resolve to design privacy in from the very beginning, which led to Circles for sharing the right information with the right people, as well as transparency around which parts of your profile can be seen by whom. We also learned how compelling it is to have meaningful conversations with interesting people, which we’re happy to see happening all the time in Google+.
As we move forward, we are hopefully wiser for our experience, and grateful for all it’s [sic] taught us — and me. I am humbled that we are now able to continue learning and growing together with the more than 40 million participants in the Google+ project”
“Today we announced our plans to retire Google Buzz along with some other products. Many of you anticipated that we would retire Buzz, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but we want to thank all of you for providing your feedback along the way.
“This will probably be our last post, so thank you for using Google Buzz and hopefully we’ll see most of you on Google+.”
Buzz isn’t the only service being shut by Google; Google Labs, Google Code, iGoogle’s social features as well as several smaller services such as Jaiku, and University Research Program for Google Search will all also be closed.
Buzz’s closure comes as no surprise, since the launch of Google+ many of Buzz’s features have been integrated into the service while Buzz has seen little in terms of expansion of its API or interface. The closure comes as part of Larry Page’s efforts to streamline Google’s service offering, something he hinted at yesterday in his comments on Google’s Q3 earnings;
“To create products that really change people’s lives, that they use every day, two or three times a day, is really hard.
So we have to make tough decisions about what to focus on, or we end up doing things that don’t have the impact that we strive for.
Since we last spoke we’ve begun the process of shutting over 20 different products, including SideWiki, Google Pack, Google Notebook, and Fast Flip.
And we’ll continue to simplify and streamline our products going forward.
This prioritization is crucial if we are to really invest in the extraordinary opportunities in front of Google today.”