Google is ranked among the most successful companies in the world, but that doesn’t mean that every product they’ve launched has been successful. In fact, there have been hundreds of failed Google products throughout the years.
In our Google Cemetery, you can find 100+ of these products. In this article, we’ll go over the 25 biggest failures. Let’s see how many of Google’s biggest flops you remember.
25 Biggest Failed Google Products
What it did: Google+ was Google’s attempt at breaking into the social media scene when Facebook and Twitter were at their peaks. The idea behind Google+ was to replicate the way people interacted offline and allow users to network around specific topics called “Circles.”
Why did it fail?: While Google+ was initially met with some excitement and its early growth numbers looked strong, it ultimately failed to understand what users wanted and needed in terms of social media.
Facebook already allowed users to network with friends, family, and others, and Instagram was gaining traction as the world’s top photo-sharing social network. Google+ was not able to offer anything new and innovative enough to take over.
Though the platform shifted gears a few times over the years to try and win users over, it finally shut down for good in 2019 due to a lack of user engagement and security concerns.
What it did: Google Buzz was another attempt by Google to compete with Twitter. In fact, it was basically a Twitter clone, with the main difference being that it integrated directly with Gmail to show users content right in their inboxes.
Why did it fail?: Google was not providing anything new with Google Buzz, and the platform didn’t have any competitive advantage over Twitter. There were also some concerns over privacy because of the integration with Gmail and the fact that Google Buzz published a user’s location whenever they posted something.
What it did: Google Offers was Google’s answer to Groupon and LivingSocial, when such “daily deals” coupon sites were taking cities by storm. Google Offers was actually launched after an unsuccessful attempt by Google to buy Groupon in 2010.
Why did it fail?: Like with other failed Google products, Google was not the first to market with this idea of offering coupons for local deals of the day, and the service just never took off.
What it did: Google’s Tango, formerly known as Project Tango, was an augmented reality platform for developers to build AR apps with. These apps would let users interact with their real-world environments in different ways from their smartphones, such as through immersive gaming.
Why did it fail?: Google pulled the plug on Tango in favor of focusing on another augmented reality development program for app designers to build on top of: ARCore. ARCore is still in existence, so it successfully replaced Tango.
What it did: Google Wave is one of the most abstract concepts Google has come up with over the years. It allowed users to collaborate on “waves,” live spaces on the internet, where they could share images, video clips, polls, and more. The platform was intended to be a futuristic form of email.
Why did it fail?: While it had some interesting features and potential, Google Wave was perhaps just too confusing for users, and there was a complete lack of interest in the product.
What it did: Google Video was Google’s own video hosting platform, similar to YouTube. Users could upload videos up to 100 MB in size to the platform and host them for free for anyone to watch.
Why did it fail?: There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the concept behind Google Video or its execution. At the time, YouTube was gaining a lot of traction, and Google bought it about a year after launching Google Video. As YouTube continued to take over the video-sharing market, there was no need to continue the development of Google Video.
7) Google Answers
What it did: Google Answers had a pretty unique concept — it allowed users to ask any question they wanted and set a price they were willing to pay for the answer. Then, certified researchers could answer the question to receive the payment.
Why did it fail?: The big problem with Google Answers was that by 2002 there were already plenty of free ways to get answers to questions on the internet. For example, there were Yahoo! Answers and Ask Jeeves, as well as tons of online forums revolving around different topics. Google Answers shut down because of a lack of users willing to pay for answers to their questions.
8) Google Glass
What it did: If you were old enough to be using the internet in 2012, you probably remember all the hype surrounding Google Glass, Google’s voice- and motion-controlled augmented reality glasses. The smart glasses featured apps, a camera, and more.
Why did it fail?: Google Glass came with a large price tag upon launch — $1,500, to be exact — and Google never really effectively marketed them. Sales of Google Glass were very limited and only lasted for a few years.
While Google Glass isn’t officially dead yet, the smart glasses are no longer available commercially and Google hasn’t announced any plans for further releases or development of the product.
What it did: Google Daydream was a virtual reality headset from Google that required users to insert their smartphone into the headset in order to use the phone’s display for a VR experience.
Why did it fail?: Google realized that a smartphone’s display is not powerful enough for a top-quality virtual reality experience, and Daydream couldn’t compete with more powerful VR headsets, like Oculus. Google gave up on Daydream and pulled the remaining stock from stores in 2019.
What it did: Google Health was a failed Google product intended to create a consolidated healthcare record that users could input information and data into to share with participating healthcare providers. It also provided users with information about conditions, medications, and allergies.
Lifespan: 2008-2012, 2018-2021
Why did it fail?: Google Health was originally shut down because of privacy concerns related to HIPAA and lack of user adoption. Google launched a new team called Google Health in 2018 that began working on healthcare-related projects again, but shut it down in 2021 and consolidated the division into the Google Health AI group.
What it did: Google Lively was a web-based virtual environment along the lines of Second Life. Users could create avatars using pre-designed features and interact with one another in virtual rooms, which could be hosted on any website.
Why did it fail?: Google Lively only lasted for a few months in 2008 (July-December). Google stated that they decided to kill Lively in order to prioritize resources and refocus on their core businesses, including search, ads, and apps.
What it did: Knol, a play on the word “knowledge,” was Google’s attempt to dethrone Wikipedia as the king of user-written informational articles. Any user was able to create and own new articles on Knol, and there could be multiple articles on the same topic written by different people.
Why did it fail?: Knol failed to ever gain a large user base, with only about 175,000 monthly users in 2009. Because of this, Google was never able to monetize the site and they stopped promoting it, eventually shutting it down for good in 2012.
What it did: Nexus Q was an earlier iteration of products like Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire. It allowed people to stream videos from YouTube and music from Google Music directly to their TVs.
Why did it fail?: Nexus Q never actually made it to commercial sales. It was unveiled at the 2012 Google I/O developers' conference, along with a $299 retail price tag — and that was just for the streaming device. Google also planned to sell branded speakers and cables for hundreds more dollars.
The high cost and lack of compatibility with non-Google streaming platforms drew harsh criticisms, and Google discontinued the product before launching it.
What it did: Google Talk was a messaging app that pre-dated Hangouts and other Google messaging platforms. It integrated with Gmail and allowed users to send chat messages from any device. It also integrated with Google Voice for video calling.
Why did it fail?: Google added support for Hangouts to Gmail in 2013, and Google Talk was gradually phased out in favor of the newer messaging and video meeting app.
15) Inbox by Gmail
What it did: Inbox by Gmail was an email client with added features that were unavailable in Gmail at the time. These included Smart Reply, snoozing, bundling, and other AI-based features that made Google’s Inbox smarter than the standard Gmail inbox.
Why did it fail?: Google eventually rolled most of Inbox by Gmail’s features into Gmail itself, and discontinued Inbox for good in 2019.
What it did: Google Allo was a mobile instant messaging app for iOS and Android devices. Since Allo was tied to a user’s phone number, rather than an email or social media account, it was more akin to WhatsApp than other instant messaging services.
Why did it fail?: It seemed like Google couldn’t quite figure out what it wanted Allo to be — it was caught in an awkward space between being an SMS messaging service and an instant messenger app with a built-in virtual assistant. Google ended up transferring many of its features over to its Messages app.
What it did: Google Goggles was a smartphone app designed to let users look up information by taking pictures of things. For example, you could take a picture of a product’s barcode to find information about it, or snap a picture of a famous landmark to learn about its history.
Why did it fail?: Visual search is a functionality that just never quite took off. However, Google seems determined to make it work, and launched a new image-based search app called Google Lens in 2017. Google killed their Goggles project the following year.
What it did: Google Web Accelerator was a software product intended to speed up the load times of pages on the internet. It did this by caching information on Google, compressing data, prefetching content, and more.
Why did it fail?: Google Web Accelerator was full of bugs, including the inability to load YouTube videos. Because of the bugs and privacy issues, Google decided to terminate support for the program after just three years.
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19) Google Reader
What it did: Google Reader was a tool for aggregating RSS feeds from multiple sites. It had various features that allowed users to organize and view news and articles in different ways, including a folder-based view and an expanded view for scanning lots of items at once.
Why did it fail?: Google Reader had a loyal following, but Google decided to kill it as part of a larger “spring cleaning” operation. Google cited declining usage as the reason for shutting down Google Reader.
What it did: Google Play Edition phones were basically Android phones made by companies like Samsung and HTC, but available for purchase only through Google. The phones ran stock versions of Android and were not limited to any specific carrier, with updates being provided directly by Google.
Why did it fail?: Google stopped selling Play Edition phones in 2015 and the program was replaced with Google’s Android One program, which began in 2014.
What it did: Bump was an iOS and Android app created by Bump Technologies that allowed smartphone users to quickly share photos and files by bumping their phones together. Initially, it could also be used to share contact data.
Why did it fail?: Bump was actually a hugely successful app (it was listed as one of Time's "50 Best Android Applications for 2013"), but Google bought Bump Technologies and shut down the app in 2014. Google stated that they made the decision to discontinue the Bump app so that the Bump team could focus on other photo-related projects at Google.
What it did: Google Desktop was a sidebar widget that users could install on their Linux, macOS, and Windows devices. It allowed people to search for locally stored files and photos, and provided a clock, weather, a news feed, and a Gmail feed.
Why did it fail?: Google Desktop naturally became obsolete since desktop operating systems started to incorporate these widgets as part of their default features.
23) Google SMS Search
What it did: Google SMS search allowed cell phone users to text search queries to GOOGLE (the number 466453) to get information quickly without internet access. Google SMS Search provided answers to common queries about things like sports, weather, and currency conversions.
Why did it fail?: Google SMS Search is another Google product that naturally became obsolete as most smartphone users gained access to unlimited data and free WiFi became more widespread.
What it did: Dodgeball was a location-based social networking platform that allowed users to text their location to the service in order to get notified about which friends, family members, and other acquaintances were nearby. Dodgeball was created in 2000, and Google purchased the service in 2005.
Why did it fail?: The founders of Dodgeball, Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, left Google in 2007, just two years after their company was acquired. They stated the experience was very frustrating and that Google offered little support for Dodgeball.
Interestingly, Crowley went on to co-found Foursquare, which initially built on a lot of the concepts of Dodgeball. Google eventually replaced Dodgeball with Google Latitude, a check-in feature for Google Maps that also got shut down later on.
What it did: Google Latitude allowed Google Maps users with Google Accounts to tag their locations and keep tabs on their friends and family. It was developed as a successor to the aforementioned SMS-based Dodgeball.
Why did it fail?: Google eventually integrated location check-ins to Google+ and decided to get rid of Google Latitude.
There are many reasons why so many Google products have failed, including lack of uniqueness, lateness to market, poor marketing efforts, and bad user interfaces.
A recurring trend is that many of Google’s failed products had good concepts, but poor timing, as there were already better alternatives out there, as in the case of Google Video.
Google has also often failed to follow through on the hype of products with its marketing and failed to live up to product feature expectations, which is what happened with Google Glass.
Despite all of its failures, Google is still a remarkable company that can count just as many successes among its failures.
Indeed, Google’s core service, its search engine, holds approximately 92% of the worldwide search engine market share, and that’s something that’s highly unlikely to change.
Not all of Google’s failures have been in vain, either. Google learned from many of its mistakes and has repeatedly spun failed concepts into new, more successful products.
To sum up, any successful business must fail a number of times in some areas to succeed in others, and Google are experts at doing just that.
How many times did Google fail?
According to the website Killed by Google, Google has put an end to a total of 267 products. These include 51 apps, 195 services, and 21 pieces of hardware.
Exactly how many of these products terminated by Google can be classified as failures depends on who you ask, since lots of them were transitioned into something else.
If you consider the fact that many of these product shutdowns led to something better, you might even consider plenty of them to be a success! After all, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, remains among the top 3 most successful tech companies in the world.
Why does Google cancel so many projects?
One reason why so many Google projects get canceled is because there are just so many of them. When you try out as many new ideas for apps, services, and hardware as Google does, how could all of them possibly go as planned?
All of Google’s dead products can be considered a necessary by-product of the company's massive innovation.