The average Google product has a life of only 4 years

Google are known for suddenly discontinuing products, leaving users stranded.

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Every time Google launches a new product or service, many pundits are sure to remind users to proceed with care, or at the very least, not get too attached to it. This is because of the giant’s, at this point, infamous readiness to kill these products off, and a reputation that the practice has earned it of an unreliable provider.

And while this is in many ways old news, even those aware of this situation might be surprised to find out the exact number of products that Google has discontinued so far – and also, their average lifespan. A website tracking the phenomenon, Google Cemetery, has the statistics: to date, over the company’s 13 years of existence, 164 products have been killed off by Google.

This includes APIs, apps, operating systems, services, and software. The average duration of products, meanwhile, now stands at just over four years.

During the same period, Google has made 212 acquisitions, solidifying its grip on the industry. In fact, the Google Cemetery creator explains on the site that the motive for putting it together is to highlight Google’s strategy to “acquire and destroy projects to sideline the competition.”

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Some of the products where Google “bought the farm” include popular services like Google Reader, Google’s attempts at collaborative and social networks like Google Wave and Google Plus, Google Code, an URL shortener, and more than 150 others, some less useful and more obscure than others.

Google Cemetery also lists “deaths by year,” to reveal that 2011 and this year so far have seen the greatest number of discontinued products, 25 each. This number was the lowest – only 3 – in the company’s first year of existence, 2003.

The website provides a list of recent and upcoming deaths and links to Google’s stated reasons. Among the giant’s products that will not survive next year is the messaging app Hangouts and Google Cloud Print, while the company’s CAT (computer assisted translation) tool Translator Toolkit will be shut down this December.

But it’s not all bad news over on Google Cemetery, because the site also features a page informing readers about various alternatives to Google’s products.

Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]