Google Labs closes as firm focuses on making money from its greatest hits

It all started with a search engine, albeit a near-ubiquitous one, but Google soon became known for dipping its fingers in a great many pies, pervading almost every aspect of modern life with its vast range of apps and services.

Click HERE to view graphic (135k jpg)

For each celebrated innovation such as Street View and Gmail, there have been high-profile failures, like its social networking endeavours Buzz and Wave, and projects that sank without trace, such as the shortlived Google Print Ads. There are also the works in progress, like Google+, its new social network, which could yet go either way.

It is this mixed bag that is behind Google's latest change of direction. The company announced on Wednesday that it was shutting down Google Labs, a service used to offer and refine product ideas. On the Lab site, users get an early look at some of Google's newest and most experimental ideas and are encouraged to play with and add to them, in an effort to fine-tune products before a full launch.

Instead, Google will now concentrate resources on "core products", including its search tools, smartphone technology and web browsing. This plan is said by insiders to be at the heart of the vision that Larry Page, the co-founder and newly appointed CEO, has for the company.

It can't be said that the old approach was hurting the firm's finances. Results released this week show that it posted record revenues for the second quarter, making more than £5.5bn, up 32 per cent from last year. But Mr Page said he wanted the company to be "very careful stewards of shareholder money", while having "a few small speculative projects happening at any given time".

He added that Google is "focused on long-term, absolute profit and growth, as we have always been... we spend the vast majority of our resources on the core products."

An insider said the company would rather put larger teams of developers on fewer ideas, rather than follow a more scatter-shot approach.

This tactic is best illustrated by the launch of Google+, which had a relatively large team working on it behind the scenes and was initially opened up to a very small group of people whom the company hoped would give informed feedback.

Other organisations still see the value of throwing ideas to their users and asking for their input but, their bosses say, their goals are very different from Google's. Dave Jafari, who runs Sparkmuse, a forum for developers and entrepreneurs to meet and discuss technical ideas, said the closing of Google Labs "didn't come as much of a surprise". He said consumers associate Google more with high-quality finished products than half-baked ideas.

"Labs simply doesn't fit well strategically within that wedge. We all know that this doesn't mean the end of Google's keen interest in experimentation and user feedback; it will simply take a new form," he said.

A Google spokesman vowed yesterday that the company would "keep experimenting and innovating". But, he added, "we want to do it at a larger scale – so instead of dispersing our efforts across lots of isolated individual products, we're re-focusing our efforts on projects with global impact, and making even bigger bets there."

Or, in the words of Larry Page: "It's easy to focus on things that we do that are speculative, for example driverless cars... [but] we are not betting the farm on this stuff."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick