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Google's July 2012 spring clean

Streamlining vs scattergun

Google's latest spring clean continues the company's drive to remain focused, ridding itself of defunct tools and combining those which serve similar purposes into single, stronger facilities.

Google has worked hard to maintain a streamlined approach since its inception 14 years ago, bringing favourable comparisons with other blue chip success stories such as Apple and Facebook, in direct contrast to the scattergun style of brands such as Microsoft and AOL. After getting started in autumn 2011, its latest spruce-up applies this philosophy not only to the brand's visual aesthetic and navigational structure, but also to the breadth of its portfolio.

Below is a summary of the search giant's latest attempts to reign in any superfluous activity:

DEFUNCT

Customised services: iGoogle (launched 2005)

  • Formerly known as Google Personalised Homepage, iGoogle allows users to determine the way in which they view and access content via Google. It will remain available until 1 November 2013.
  • To be binned because: Despite having over 7 million users at its peak in 2007, iGoogle has become outdated and irrelevant due to the explosive development of personalised applications in recent years; and the creation of social network Google+.

Mobile: Symbian Search (launched 2008)

  • Symbian Search is an application allowing users of smartphones equipped with the Symbian operating system to search via Google.
  • To be binned because: Symbian Search has not been updated for some time and Google wishes to simplify its mobile web search experience, encouraging users to bookmark its standard online interface.

SUPERSEDED

Video: Google Video (launched 2005)

  • As the title suggests, Google Video is a video search engine and sharing website.
  • Superseded by: YouTube, which was bought by Google in 2006 and is the undisputed market leader. Until 20 August 2012, people with material hosted by Google Video will have the option to migrate it to YouTube. If they ignore Google's warning messages, these videos will be deleted.

Communication: Google Talk Chatback (launched 2008)

  • Google Talk Chatback allows the owners of websites using instant messaging facility Google Talk to chat with visitors.
  • Superseded by: Meebo, an instant messaging programme which operates via an in-browser toolbar. It began in 2005 and was acquired by Google in June 2012.

Business search: Google Mini (launched 2005)

  • Google Mini is a search engine for use within small and medium-sized businesses, allowing them to index and search up to 300,000 documents.
  • Superseded by: Google Search Appliance, Google Site Search and Google Commerce Search, which offer similar yet superior functionality.

Swift evolution of the digital landscape

Matt Eichner, general manager of Global Enterprise Search at Google, said: "Closing products always involves tough choices, but we do think very hard about each decision and its implications for our users. Streamlining our services enables us to focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve people's lives."

It is interesting to note that most of the above features were created in 2005, before the introduction of the iPhone and mainstream use of Facebook, among other major developments.

This serves as a reminder of the swift rate at which the digital world changes. Innovations that are so ingrained in our lives today were only dreams a mere seven years ago - not only to us, but also to leading global businesses like Google.

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