As part of Larry Page's drive for focus and prioritization Google has announced its intention to wind down Google Labs. This comes as a shock both inside and outside Google. It also seems to be a growing trend to trim things that aren't performing.
Last month we were surprised to learn that Google was pulling the plug on several APIs but there seemed to be some justification.
Now however the company has gone much further and announced that it is closing the doors on Google Labs.
In yesterday's blog post More wood behind fewer arrows Bill Coughran links the decision to Larry Page's announcement about achieving greater focus and prioritizing product efforts.
While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead.
He explains that while some lab experiments will close others will be incorporated into other product areas and those that are Android apps will continue to be available on the Android Market.
A later update to the post seems to have been added for damage limitation:
To clarify: we don't have any plans to change in-product experimentation channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We'll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products.
The closure of Google Labs is a big blow to developers in Google who enjoyed a good deal of freedom and autonomy working on a wide range of projects under its umbrella.
The reference by Coughran to the launch of Google+ is a strong hint that Google is diverting its efforts in the social networking space - and this narrowing of focus may make Google a less attractive prospect for developers.
Google seems to be on a shutting down spree at the moment because it just announced that Google Directory is to close. Google's web directory was introduced soon after its search engine to compete with the likes of Yahoo! Directory.
Finally Google Toolbar for Firefox has been discontinued. So if you want to use it you will need to go back to Firefox 4. The argument is that most of the facilities in the Toolbar are now standard in the browser - well in Chrome at least.
It seems that the new managment style at Google is to take bold decisions - to stop doing things...
Google blog announcement
An update on Google Toolbar for Firefox