Google Apps Landscape

Google Shuts Down Picnik, Message Continuity, Urchin

Google is to close down or open-source several products, including the Picnik photo editor, Google Sky Maps and the Message Continuity disaster recovery tool

Google’s spring cleaning continued into the winter, as the company said it will shutter, merge or open-source more software products, including Picnik, Google Sky Maps and Google Message Continuity.

Google chief executive Larry Page embarked on his “more wood behind fewer arrows” strategy to focus on more products and cut others shortly after taking the helm last April. The late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, told Page Google was too cluttered and should focus on making five good products.

Dozens of services closed

Page started by excising Google Health and PowerMeter, and continued his closings with Google Labs, the Slide social unit, and dozens of other web services over the course of 2011. The new cuts mark the first of 2012.

Google Message Continuity is a disaster recovery product the company launched in December 2010. The app was intended for enterprise customers that use Google’s cloud to back up emails that were originally sent or received in Microsoft’s rival, on-premise Exchange messaging server.

Dave Girouard, vice president of product management for Google Apps, said that while hundreds of businesses signed up for it GMC, millions of businesses have moved entirely to Google Apps, the cloud-based collaboration suite that includes disaster recovery capabilities.

“Going forward we’ve decided to focus our efforts on Google Apps and end support for GMC,” Girouard wrote in a blog post announcing the latest product sunsetting. “Current GMC customers will be able to use GMC for the duration of their contract and are encouraged to consider using Google Apps as their primary messaging and collaboration platform.”

No surprise there that Google is pushing users increasingly to Google Apps from Microsoft products, especially now that Microsoft offers its own, competing Office 365 cloud collaboration suite.

Picnik, Social Graph

Also on the cutting board is Picnik, the web photo editing app Google acquired in 2010. The service will be closed on 19 April, 2012, with the Picnik team applying their photo-editing chops across Google’s other products. No doubt this includes Google+, which already offers several web-based photo tools.

To wit, Girouard said Picnik users can download a zip file of their photo edits through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. Subscribers to Picnik’s paid premium service will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.

Google is also killing off its Social Graph API, which makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers. The tool, an open-source alternative to Facebook’s social graph APIs, isn’t gaining any traction and will be retired on 20 April, 2012.

When Google acquired travel software maker ITA Software last year, it gained Needlebase, a data management platform. Needlebase will be retired as a standalone platform on 1 June, 2012, but Google is evaluating whether to use the technology in other projects.

Google is open-sourcing Google Sky Map, an app created by employees at Google’s Pittsburgh office who wanted to put the sensors in Android phones to the test. While the app has seen more than 20 million Android phone users since 2009, the app will now be used in student projects at Carnegie Mellon University.

Finally, Google is bidding adieu to web analytics assets of Urchin. Google acquired Urchin in 2005 and quickly made it the foundation for Google Analytics, which helps businesses gauge how well their websites are engaging online. New Urchin software licences will cease being available after March this year.

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