The Google Endeavours that Never Succeeded

The Google Endeavours that Never Succeeded

Google is not a company one typically equates with ‘failure’. As the world’s most popular search engine, Google exercises what many perceive to be a worrying amount of power in their ability to influence marketing and information. But Google’s endeavours go beyond providing the world’s fastest and most comprehensive search engine.

The last ten years have seen the multi-national company introduce an increasingly wide range of internet services – including expansions to its email, translation, scheduling, file sharing, internet browser and social media services. On top of this, Google has purchased other mega internet services such as YouTube and Earth Viewer (now named Google Earth), funded innovative tech projects as well as ventured into hardware production.

But it hasn’t been all success for Google – the internet giants have experienced their fair share of fallbacks. Though never seeming to make a dent in their ever-growing business, it’s comforting to know that even the most important and relied-upon companies in the world can make mistakes. Here are some of Google’s most notable failures…


Google Glass

Arguably one of the most disappointing of the company’s many flops; Google Glass was eagerly anticipated as an upcoming must-have gadget that would change our daily lives forever. When the product dropped in  2013 at a whopping $1,500, people were excited at the prospect of having what was basically a hands-free smartphone with them at all times. The glasses could search the internet with voice command, receive messages and record video. It was a futuristic endeavour, but ambition exceeded ability; and Google Glass did not quite live up to the hype.

Many complaints were focused on how the glasses projected text in the user’s field of vision, potentially obstructing one’s view when driving or in other situations that require full concentration. Most controversial, however, was the recording software in the Google Glass. People were concerned with a dangerous invasion of privacy, and the glasses quickly became banned in an increasing number of places, from hospitals to banks to gyms and casinos. In the case of the casinos, the concern was not just for privacy but the potential of cheating, as the glasses could produce poker odds calculations visible only to the user.


Technically, this one hasn’t been declared an official failure yet. Despite a dwindling user base and widespread criticism, Google are still pushing their social media alternative to Facebook. The initial enthusiasm surrounding the social media platform which one accesses through their general account was short-lived when Google failed to implement much-needed updates and breathe life into the uninteresting layout and features offered. Unless a major revamp in store, Google+ is likely to become the next service in the Google graveyard.

Google Catalogue

Google catalogue was a short-lived feature specifically designed for tablet devices. The underlying idea was interesting – that the app would allow businesses to offer easily accessible electronic catalogues thereby reduce the need for printing. In other worse, the app was meant to be greener alternative to traditional paper catalogues.

This virtual catalogue allowed merchants to submit their product listings free of charge, and then optimized each user’s shopping experience by showcasing products in which they’d indicated interest. It was thought that the app would benefit businesses through free promotion, whilst also benefitting the consumer through simple access to products from a wide range of shops. However the tablet app felt rather obsolete with Google’s search engine already functioning as a decent product and shop locator. The app simply wasn’t popular enough, and the project was abandoned in 2013, just two years after its introduction.

Google Lively

Last year, a virtual reality gaming craze took the world by storm and the hype only looks to grow bigger as VR technology becomes both better and more affordable. Before fancy headsets and immersive video games, however, there were numerous online life simulations that allowed people from all over the world to socialize and chat in a virtual internet world. Google introduced a version of a VR chat room called ‘Google Lively’ in 2008.

The simulated world allowed users to customize their own characters or ‘avatar’. Besides chatting with other avatars, users could punch each other, hug one another and perform other simple actions. But even with these features, Google Lively quickly got boring for users and remained limiting when compared to VR worlds like Second Life. After failing to attract enough users, Google Lively was shut down just a few months after its introduction in 2008.

Google Health

Google Health was a free service designed to help people keep track of their health as well as access instant information about potential allergies and illnesses. Users could log online and access their personal profile and confidential health information. It sounds like a hypochondriac’s dream come true, but the service was rivalled by other medical sites and online health guides. Google Health, introduced in 2008, failed to make a significant impact and was discontinued in 2011.

Google Helpouts

Another interesting concept which failed to flourish; the idea behind Google Helpouts had a lot of potential but its implementation failed. The service was supposed to help experts, lecturers and customer service representatives provide live stream help to audiences. One could pay for online lessons through the service, or join Q&As with professionals in their fields. For whatever reason, Google Helpouts did not garner enough interest and was discontinued in 2015.

Regardless of these failed ventures, one can’t help but give Google credit for their visions and their dedication to innovation. For every project that fails, Google find twice the success elsewhere.

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