It goes without saying that Google is a force to be reckoned with on the internet (and a frequent topic of discussion at IntelliSites’ Albany Web Design Blog). It’s an enormous corporation with tons of resources and lots of creative minds contributing to its big picture. And it comes up with some pretty amazing new concepts. But did you know that the Google folks have worked on a number of technologies that never quite took off? I caught an article by Danny Sullivan on Search Engine Land the other day that celebrated some of Google’s “failed attempts.” Here’s my take on a couple of Google’s best worst ideas.
Google Wave – This was invented as a form of communication that blended the best elements of email, instant messages, and wikis. It could have taken over as a new and improved version of email. Even though Google Wave didn’t make it, I think its debut pointed out that email as a form of communication has some widespread issues and that there are things that new technology could do to make it better. Wave’s short life also suggests that email is so widely adopted that even with its flaws, people don’t know how to make sense of a replacement for it.
SearchWiki – This function allowed people to tailor their list of results when they used Google’s regular search engine. You could delete sites from your results and rearrange the order of results so you’d have an ideal list the next time you made the same search. But somehow, in this era of customization, people didn’t like changing their search results. Do people feel there’s a sanctity to Google results? Do people feel that Google knows what’s relevant to their searches better than they, themselves, do? Based on how this idea flopped, I guess so.
Dodgeball – Dodgeball is the ancestor of what we now know as Foursquare. (For real. As Sullivan’s article mentions, the guy who invented Foursquare used to work for Google). Based on Foursquare’s success, it seems like sometimes, Google would benefit from sticking it out with a product before killing it. Google’s attempt at spreading Dodgeball also makes it clear that Google is ahead of its time in many ways. They were thinking about location-based stuff even before everybody had smartphones.
So maybe the world just wasn’t ready for these “flops” when they came out. And maybe cousins of Google Wave, SearchWiki, and Google’s other technologies will make someone else rich someday.Filed under: Experiencing the Web