Google Shutters Buzz, Jaiku

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Google has shut down Buzz and Jaiku as it looks to focus on more successful endeavours such as Google+

With Google+ hitting more than 40 million users since its 28 June launch, Google on 14 October said it was shuttering social network services and other developer products.

Leading the short list is Google Buzz, the social networking service that was the company’s first serious attempt at challenging Facebook or Twitter by allowing users to share status updates with their Gmail contacts. However, Buzz engineers failed to properly account for users’ privacy requirements.

Privacy breach

The application leveraged users’ Gmail contacts to quickly scale large social networks of Buzz contacts and users’ Gmail friends were publicly exposed, sparking outrage from thousands of users. Google settled class-actions suits and acceded to the Federal Trade Commission’s demand to accept privacy audits for 20 years.

Buzz and the Buzz API are being nixed in favor of Google+. Users won’t be able to create new Google Buzz posts, but they will be able to see their legacy posts on their Google Profile and download them for posterity via the Google Takeout data export application.

Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of product management, commented on what Google learned from Buzz privacy debacle on Google+ (of course), noting:

“What did we learn from Buzz? Plenty. We learned privacy is not a feature… it is foundational to the product. And this awareness gave us the resolve to design privacy in from the very beginning, which led to Circles for sharing the right information with the right people, as well as transparency around which parts of your profile can be seen by whom… “With the majority of Buzz users now here on Google+, it became obvious that all of our attention should be focused on this community.”

Jaiku shut down

The company also nixed Jaiku, the mobile social service it acquired in 2007 to let friends send updates on their status to other friends. A poor man’s Twitter, Jaiku never gained much traction beyond its early core users after Google failed to develop it.

Jaiku was shunted to Google’s App Engine platform in 2008 and will go the way of the Dodo bird on 15 January, 2012, though Google will allow users to export their data from Jaiku. It isn’t clear if Takeout will enable this data migration.

Google is also canning social widgets in its iGoogle personalised homepage, essentially because they’re redundant now that Google has Google+ to offer its users. Those features will also be shuttered on 15 January, 2012.

Also on 15 January, Google is getting rid of Code Search and the Code Search API, which was apparently created to help developers search for open-source code all over the web. Google’s University Research Programme for Google Search, which provides API access to the company’s search results for some academic researchers, will also close on 15 January next year.

Last but not least, the Google Labs site has shut down, fulfilling a pledge Google chief executive Larry Page made on the company’s July earnings call to “put more wood behind fewer arrows”, or focus on core products.

Page has been on quite the mission for fewer arrows. Page closed Google Health, PowerMeter and the company’s Slide social software unit since taking the helm from now-Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in April.

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