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News Room

Four of Google's Biggest Product Flops

Megan Ellis
2017-06-12
Not everything Google touches turns to gold. In fact, they've had quite a few failures. Here are a few of them...
Not everything Google touches turns to gold. As with many global companies like itself, it has had quite a few failures. Unfortunately for us, many of Google's product failures were simply ahead of their time, rather than being bad ideas. There are also those, however, that failed in the face of fiercer and better competition. Here are some of Google's most notable product flops:

1. Project Ara

This is one of the most recent and most disappointing failures for Google fans. Project Ara was the company's attempt at creating a modular phone. By being modular, the phone could have different components added and swapped depending on the user's need at the time. Despite other modular phones being released, like the Moto Z and LG G5, Project Ara was expected to be a more affordable alternative that would be a better iteration of the modular concept. A prototype was developed, but it never went further than that. In 2016, Google confirmed that the project had been suspended and that the phone would not be coming to market. There is the possibility that the project could be relaunched one day, but the chances don't seem good.

2. Google Glass

Google Glass was the company's smart glasses project which was expected to launch us into the future with technology we had only seen in movies. The product even reached its beta phase after years of planning, which allowed developers to purchase a prototype of the product. It had great augmented reality features, with the ability to record video and understand voice commands. Progress on the product, however, slowed down and eventually stopped. In 2015, it was announced that Google Glass would be overhauled and redesigned. Not much has been heard since. More recently, Google Glass was inducted into Sweden's Museum of Failure, alongside the Sony Betamax and Harley-Davidson Perfume. (Ouch).

3. Google Buzz

Google is known for taking concepts launched by other companies and attempting to create an improved version aimed at becoming a major competitor. While many of us are aware of how Google+ was aimed at becoming a competitor to Facebook, the internet giant also had its own micro-blogging service. Google Buzz was the company's version of Twitter. It was launched in 2010, but the company ditched it by the end of 2011. By then, Twitter had already become relatively popular. This means it would have been quite the task to draw fans away to try an untested platform. Much of its failure, however,  can also be attributed to major privacy concerns, especially since it was integrated into Gmail. TechCrunch even reported in 2010 that the network had automatically shared a woman's online activity and location with her abusive ex-husband, who had been in her history of Gmail contacts.

4. Google Lively

Lively was actually quite an interesting concept based on online environments like Second Life, where users could interact with each other in a virtual world. Users in Google Lively could create an online avatar and design their own room while interacting with the avatars of friends. It was almost like an online, less advanced version of The Sims. The product didn't last long though, launching in July 2008 and shutting down a few months later in December 2008. Second Life continues to exist, so virtual worlds haven't necessarily gone out of fashion. In fact, some developers are creating interactive virtual chat rooms using virtual reality systems. This means you can create an avatar that will move along with your real-life gestures. Could we see a return of Lively? It's unlikely, but there are some who still hope.  
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