Google announced last night that it would be discontinuing a number of its services in the coming months because they “replicate other features, haven’t achieved the promise we had hoped for or can’t be properly integrated into the overall Google experience.”

Two things jump out at me regarding these closures:

  1. Google is channeling its lab-like smaller products into features of Google Plus.  It almost feels like if it isn’t Android or Search (both recently got heavy + integration), it will soon be part of Google Plus.
  2. Larry Page is heeding the advice he got from Steve Jobs: “Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map,” read the biography of Jobs’ interaction with Page. Later, Jobs came to Page with a sharped-tongue warning that Google was making products, “That are adequate but not great. They’re turning you into Microsoft.”  Page is now striving for greatness by putting “more wood behind fewer arrows”

Most notably for consumers, Picnik, the Cloud photo editing software, will be discontinued in April.

Picnik: We acquired this online photo editor in 2010. We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products. You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.

We will likely see Picnik’s features reincarnated in Google Plus —where Google wants users to be storing photos anyway.  Google did the same thing to Picasa late last year.

Google also announced that it will close Urchin Web Analytics, the company it bought in 2005 to make Google Analytics cloud service.  Google kept the offline product available, but it will discontinue updates and sales, then subsequently direct customers to the Google product.

Urchin: helps businesses of all sizes measure their websites and online marketing. We’re fully committed to building an industry-leading online analytics product, so we’re saying goodbye to the client-hosted version, known as Urchin Software. New Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available after March 2012.

Google’s Skymap App project, which was started by some Pittsburgh Googlers in their 20 percent time, will now be Open Sourced and run out of nearby Carnegie Mellon.

A number of other services were also slated for termination…

  • Google Message Continuity (GMC): In December 2010 we launched an email disaster recovery product for enterprise customers that use Google’s cloud to back up emails originally sent or received in an on-premise, Microsoft Exchange system. In the time since we launched, we’ve seen hundreds of businesses sign up for it. By comparison, in that same time, we’ve seen millions of businesses move entirely to the cloud with Google Apps, benefitting from disaster recovery capabilities built directly into Apps. Going forward we’ve decided to focus our efforts on Google Apps and end support for GMC. 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.
  • Needlebase: We are retiring this data management platform, which we acquired from ITA Software, on June 1, 2012. The technology is being evaluated for integration into Google’s other data-related initiatives.
  • Social Graph API: This API makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers. The API isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and is being deprecated as of today. It will be fully retired on April 20, 2012.

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