Despite being one of the most successful and profitable companies, Google inc. has had its fair share of failures. Let’s rewind our clock back to five years ago when Google was everything its competitors weren’t. Everything they launched added a paragraph to their success story. The whys and wherefores of this could be accounted by the class, meticulousness, innovation and trustworthiness we find in its services.  Not to forget we get to use all its super awesome services for free. We didn’t realize when that 10 MB of our Gmail space grow out to become 10 GB.

It isn’t that Google has failed; I think it will never fail, but some of its products aren’t something the company will be proud of. Google is known for creating impeccable products; it has revolutionized the way we search, no matter what Microsoft says. Bing is not even close to what Google search engine is. Google also industrialized the online adverts developing personalized ad – catering you with the ads which are more relevant to you.

But, things have changed, not everything they dish out is gold, anymore. Here are some examples where Google failed to hit the bull’s eye.

The pirate treasure hunt AKA Google X

Google X how it looked like

It all started back in 2005, when Google Labs released a project named “Google X”, only to shut it down within a day. It was sort of a tribute to Apple’s OS X. Google software engineer Chikai Ohazama put dock look-a-like icons which on hovering, used to magnify. On the bottom it said, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you”.

Back in those days, Google and Apple weren’t competing for any service. They weren’t arch rivals fighting for domination in smartphone world. Neither there was any Chrome OS, nor was Google working on sneaking in making computers. You can still see how the product looked and worked on this page.

Google Web Accelerator which failed to accelerate on the interwebs


In 2005, Google launched Google Web Accelerator, a desktop tool that was intended to speed up browsing for people running on slow internet connections. It used to grab the content and download its cached pages from Google’s servers to your Windows computer. This way it would take significantly less time when you visit a page which has been cached into your computer before.

The software had tragic bugs and did some horrendous slip-ups. It was reported to send the credential of users back to Google servers and then distribute that data to other users. Though Google patched the issues, the tool had already become infamous. Moreover, it lacked support for Firefox users, and nose-dived at playing videos on YouTube.

Google Answers didn’t had answers to its own existence

Google Answers

Do you use Yahoo! Answers? Well, if you do, then you should know that back in 2002, Google too tried something similar, only that it wasn’t really free. You write your questions, pay some price for it, and, then you had to give the researcher who helped you with your question some money as well. The process was quite simple though, how often do you hate it when you can’t find the exact thing you are looking for? So, this was nothing but hiring people to do that job for you. By December 2006, Google decided to shut down the service for good.

Google Wave couldn’t predict the tide

Google Wave Logo

It was rather sad to hear Google Wave’s demise. It was one of the most anticipated, overhyped and yet another approach from Google to reinvent email, instant messaging, and social networking. In a sense, it was putting all the social media and our other villas into one single apartment. Launched in 2009, maybe it was way ahead of its time, maybe had Google tried it last year, or this year it may have worked. It was so complicated for most users, add the invitation requirement to access it, Google blew it. Before anyone noticed, Google handed over the project to Apache Software Foundation.

Google Buzz, something which failed to buzz

Google buzz

The idea was quite novel, seeing the dominance of Facebook and Twitter, Google, which has shrill repute over blogging platform Blogspot, in 2010, made a micro-blogging and social sharing service, Google Buzz. Google had learned an important lesson from the fiasco of Google Wave, where it couldn’t do justice with over hyped voice and limited user readiness. Google made this service available to every Gmail user, only to witness another setback.

The problem with Google Buzz was that it tampered with people’s privacy without their consent. People didn’t like the idea of sharing everything they see on the internet with their friends, colleagues and family. With that said, the attitude to impose this service on every user only made things worse. Google soon saw it on dialysis and in December 2011, had no choice but to pull the plug off.

Google Plus, minus.

Google Plus

Finally, a fully-fledged, re-mastered, intuitive approach from Google to build a giant social network, something that was intended to shoo Facebook and Twitter, Google Plus has failed to make a good impression on people. Though it has its own essence at how we want to share our things. But, it all comes down to adaptability and where our friends are. Google again enforced the service to its every Gmail user.

Google Plus integrates many of its services like Google Talk, YouTube, and Blogger with your Plus account. It also has some unmatched services like Google Hangout. But, again, people don’t see much use of it. It has become a tenacious obsession of Google to not let things go. Google in the last few months has done so many things to make it work, but at this point it only seems as a dead end.

Google Reader is going down


As a blogger and a reader nothing of the above listed things ever mattered to me, yeah, well Google Plus could have been better, but something that was completely dreadful and bigoted from Google’s behalf was to kill its super awesome minimalistic yet dominant RSS feed managing software, Google Reader. It ruled the RSS space for years. People were angry, they all went mad. MG Siegler from TechCrunch wrote about the role of Google Reader at driving traffic to sites. He explains,

On my own site, I’ve always been surprised to see Reader constantly in the top five of traffic referrers day in and day out. If I tweet out a link or share one on Facebook, it leads to large spikes, but Reader is my rock. It’s steady traffic each and every day.

Google says that there has been a decline in the usage of Google Reader. This is totally absurd. Google removed Adwords for feeds out of RSS, signing out of any monetary gain; they didn’t push any new feature to it in last couple of years. Still, people howled to see it go, what would be the reason Google? Sure, there are alternatives, but I don’t think any of them will ever be able to spike that status.

Sadly, this isn’t all; apart from dozens of other services where Google failed to make sense, there are many other places where this tech giant isn’t doing well, Last year, due to the mounting pressure from international rights-holders, Google decided to not promote any pirated content in its search result, yet, many months to it, a simple search will flourish you so many paths to that polluted space.

Google hasn't abolished pirated links yet

Google still has to figure the right algorithm for mobile friendly Search Engine Optimization. And at last, as awesome and enthralling Google Glass could be, it has already made some privacy fear into many hearts. “You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it,” says Mark Hurst of doom-cries.


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Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.