Last week, Google CEO Larry Page used the phrase ”more wood behind fewer arrows” to describe an ongoing effort to make Google a sleeker, more focused company. Page went on to declare the products Google Health and Google PowerMeter were the first victims of that effort. Today, Google has announced that it’s also shuttering the doors to its idea factory, Google Labs. Let’s be clear here though, many of the Labs products that are Android apps today will continue to be available on Android Market, lab experiments for Gmail, Maps, and Calendar will stick around also. Other stand-alone experiments will either be tied into an existing service, or will simply fade away into the massive archives of Google.
Google is famous for letting its employees spend approximately 20% of their time “on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions.” This has given birth to some of Google’s most important products, including Gmail, Google News and Google Reader, the latter of which is a graduate of Google Labs. Google Labs has often been a conduit for testing out these 20% ideas. Googlers have posted hundreds of experiments to the site, including “graduates” like Google Reader, Goggles, Groups, Maps, Social Search and iGoogle. Luckily the Google Labs closure will not affect the 20% time offered to Google employee’s – so experimental projects will continue – they might just be organized and filed away in a different place.
The Google Labs will regular feature updates regarding the progress of the closure and what will happen to your favorite experiments. In the meantime I would like to leave you with a post by Gizmodo covering the 7 Ways Google Labs Changed the Internet Forever.