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Google's 10 biggest flops and failures

'Great ideas' from Google that didn't make it

Not everything Google touches turns to gold. We chart Google's top 10 biggest nonstarter web services, software programs, and business moves.

Google is undoubtedly the web's most successful company, but while many of the services and ideas are well-loved, there's quite a few that sank without a trace thanks to lack of interest or the fact that really no-one was ever going to use them. Then of course, there are the one still stuck in Google Labs, not quite ready to see the light of day.

We've rounded up our favourite top 10 Google flops but, while we may chuckle at their uselessness, we can learn something from them all. Without Google's willingness to take risks and not be afraid of tripping, stumbling, and sometimes falling flat on its face, the company might not be what it is today. Perhaps Google's greatness can be measured by its failures as well as its successes.

Google X

One of the most mysterious of Google's flops was its Google X site, a re-designed Google search home page that was styled after the Mac OS Dock user interface on OS X. On the bottom of the page was written "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you". The site, which launched in 2005, lasted one day before being shuttered by Google for no public reason.

Google X may have been pulled because of worries that Apple's copyright lawyers might not appreciate the ‘homage’. But Google X has lived on with many internet users cloning the interface for anyone to use.

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Google Catalog: ready for recycling

Interested in seeing what the latest prices for USB flash-based drives are? Google Google Catalog's top search result links you to a 2001 MicroWarehouse catalogue where a 256MB Trek ThumbDrive Pro will run you $595 (£297).

Google Catalogue has been in a perpetual state of beta since 2002, and currently its most recent catalogue offering for a search on 'laptops' delivers a Cyberguys Spring 2006 catalogue. Google Catalogue now works more like the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine than like a place to browse and see before you buy.

Google Catalog

Google Video Player is off the air

At one time Google thought we needed yet another application to download and play videos on our computers. Married to the company's online service Google Video, the Google Video Player's chief advantage was that it could play back video encoded using Google Video File (yet another video file format that Google thought we needed). But it supported video playlists, and it allowed you to skip ahead in a Google Video even if that portion hadn't downloaded yet.

It turned out that the web was already being well served with video players. Critics dinged the Google player for poor organisation of video clips, paid content that varied too much in price, and its inability to transfer video content to portable devices. In August of 2007 Google yanked the player from the Google Video website

NEXT PAGE: Google Web Accelerator and Google Answers are among the projects the search-engine has ditched in the dustbin

  1. Google's great ideas that didn't make it
  2. Google Web Accelerator and Google Answers
  3. Even more Google ideas that just never made it


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