Sun, Sep 04, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Google pulls plug on Fast Flip, Aardvark and others

AFP, Washington

Google said on Friday it is pulling the plug on online news reader Fast Flip, social search service Aardvark, commenting tool Sidewiki and several other products.

“Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features,” senior vice president Alan Eustace said in a move he called a “fall spring-clean” at the Internet giant.

Eustace said the closures will allow the Mountain View, California-based company to “devote more resources to high impact products — the ones that improve the lives of billions of people.”

“Technology improves, people’s needs change, some bets pay off and others don’t,” he said in a blog post.

Google said it is discontinuing the products as part of the closure announced last month of its experimental test bed Google Labs.

Besides Fast Flip, Aardvark and Sidewiki, other products facing the ax include Google Desktop, Google Web Security, Image Labeler, Notebook and Subscribed Links.

Sidewiki allows notes and comments to be posted alongside Web pages for others to read.

Google said it would begin removing Fast Flip, which was unveiled in September 2009, from Google News in the coming days.

Fast Flip allows users to browse through news stories from Google’s media partners at speeds significantly faster than the time it usually takes to load a Web page.

Aardvark co-founders Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz said in a blog post entitled “Goodbye Aardvark” that the service will shut down at the end of this month.

Google acquired Aardvark, which was founded in 2007, in February of last year for a purchase price put at US$50 million by technology blog TechCrunch.

Aardvark uses the contacts in a person’s network to provide answers to questions via the Web at Vark.com, instant messaging, e-mail or Twitter.

“Aardvark began as a small experiment in a new kind of social search and over a few years blossomed into a service that made millions of connections between people to answer each other’s questions,” Ventilla and Horowitz said.

Ventilla and Horowitz said the Aardvark team “remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.”

The announcement of the closure of the slate of products comes a week after Google said it was shutting down Slide, a developer of applications for social networks it bought a year ago.

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