Are cloud servers where websites go when they die?

This is a rubbish picture to demonstrate this topic.
I apologise. 

Firstly, I must apologise for the really, really bad geek joke in the title. It's not big and it's not clever. So naturally, I made a rubbish picture in Windows Paintbrush to enhance the joke.

And by enhance, I mean the other thing.

Anyway - onto the point - recently a bunch of the big tech companies have been tidying up their service portfolios, which is
fancy-talk to say they've been dumping a bunch of stuff that no longer is as popular or doesn't make them any money.

It's a strange thing when a web service shuts down. Is it sad? I guess if people loose jobs, but if they just get reassigned? It's not like someone died - I guess it's more like a TV show getting cancelled.

Here's a selection of the latest to go, and my random thoughts on each of them.
Just as an asside, I have no idea why I'm writing this post. Just for posterity, I guess.

Google reader

Original URL:
Type: RSS Aggregator / blog reader service doodah.
Status: Shutdown 1st July 2013. Data available for download until 15th July, 2013.
Notes: Missed by many. Me being one of them. I've got an RSS reader on my phone, but it doesn't sync with anything, so I can't just read it on a PC then carry on on the phone. There are other services that claim to do the same, but I don't think I can be bothered. I might build my own.
Wikipedia link:

Google latitude

Original URL:
Type: Social Location Sharing Tracker thing
Status: Scheduled for shutdown on 9th August, 2013
Notes: I tried it once on January 12, 2012 at 5:11pm, apparently. I did a check in.  I was at work.  Never used it again.  My guess is that was the average experience of most users, and that's why it's being shut down. It was an interesting idea, but never really had any pick-up.  Officially it never got out of Beta test, and Facebook's check-in system got better take-up because it was tied to the already ubiquitous social network, so basically blew Latitude out of the water.
Wikipedia Link:


Original URL:
Type: Pioneering search engine
Status: Shutdown on 8th July 2013.  Now just an unceremonious redirect to Yahoo!'s homepage.
Notes: One of the earliest search engines, started in 1995, a year before Google, they had an early market lead - everyone used them. They failed to compete with Google's innovations, however, and fell behind. Bought by Yahoo! in 2003, it never really saw the light of day again.
Wikipedia Link:


Original URL:  and then
Type: The first(?) big online translation engine
Status: Redirected to the Yahoo address in 2008.  As of June 2013 just redirects back to the Yahoo! homepage. 
Notes: This was a fun site.  Way before Google Translate or Microsoft's Translator service, as far as I'm aware it was the first of it's kind. Again, failed to innovate and keep up, was bought by Yahoo.. Hours of fun translating things from english to french, then back to english, then back to french then back to english just to see how much it would get it wrong. 


Original URL:
Type: Web TV service
Status: Scheduled for shutdown on 30th September, 2013
Notes: That thing's still running?!  A web-based TV service, before YouTube. Required it's own set-top box hardware. Just like Apple TV, but... um..  Microsoft.
Wikipedia link:

It's interesting that Microsoft have just announced a major reshuffle of all of their products and services. I suspect that will lead to a few of their older sites and systems falling by the wayside.


James said…
You miss a subtle thing about Latitude. It wasn't about "checking into" places - which is the biggest pile of toss I can think of.

No, Latitude was all about semi-real time location tracking.

It's highly useful being able to see your mates slowly making their way down the M1 to your house. Or you and a mate are supposed to meet up in town. Being able to see their current location on a map is much easier than trying to describe where you are. Especially if you then say to your phone "create me a route to get to them".

The "checking in" stuff is pointless. Nobody cares that you're at home, at Tesco or at some concert they're not at. Well, Facebook cares because then it can target useful adverts at you.

By "retiring" these niche services, all Google and the like are doing is saying "don't bother using this stuff... we'll probably turn it off eventually". It's exactly like how all the good scifi programs get cancelled because nobody watches them... and nobody watches them because they'll only get cancelled part way through a series.
Steve said…
Obviously I did miss the point with that then. I wonder how many others did too?

I wonder if Google should bring back Labs to try out all the niche stuff before rolling it out mainstream when they're happy with it.