Google's Buzz kill completes shift to Google+

The Web giant announces plans to shutter Google Buzz, a previous social-networking attempt that went wanting for users, in the next few weeks.

A day after announcing that Google+ has more than 40 million users , Google said that it's shutting down its previous attempt at social networking, Google Buzz.

In a blog post today, Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz, one of the Google+ leaders, said the company plans to shutter Buzz "in a few weeks." He noted that Buzz users will be able to view the posts created on Buzz in their Google Profile, and download them using Google Takeout.

Google's Bradley Horowitz at Google Buzz launch in February 2010 Josh Lowensohn/CNET

"Changing the world takes focus on the future, and honesty about the past," Horowitz wrote. "We learned a lot from products like Buzz and are putting that learning to work every day in our vision for products like Google+. Our users expect great things from us; today's announcements let us focus even more on giving them something truly awesome."

Google Buzz launched in February 2010. The service got off to a rocky start, with users raising concerns over privacy issues . Initially, it was difficult to make the list of a user's followers private. Those concerns led the Federal Trade Commission to press Google to agree to a "comprehensive privacy program" this past March.

Privacy issues were only one problem, though. Buzz simply never had the kind of great features that could lure enough users to make the service valuable. It certainly never threatened Facebook, the company Google, then as now, hopes to compete with in social networking. Buzz quickly faded to afterthought.

On his Google+ account, Horowitz went into more detail about the decision to kill Buzz.

"We think the time has come for us to focus our energy on projects that will have the most impact to the most users," Horowitz wrote. "With the majority of Buzz users now here on Google+, it became obvious that all of our attention should be focused on this community."

Horowitz also noted that the privacy flap over Buzz forced Google to put more focus on giving users control over who gets to see what posts in Google+. In particular, it led directly to the three-month-old service's Circles feature, which lets users easily select which of their followers get access to specific posts.

"We learned privacy is not a feature...it is foundational to the product," Horowitz wrote.

He also noted that the immediate backlash over privacy concerns led his team to gradually roll out Google+, in order to fine tune the system before opening the service to the masses last month.

"Probably the best lesson we learned is about how to introduce a product," Horowitz wrote. "We started very slowly with Google+--in a limited Field Trial--in order to listen and learn and gather plenty of real-world feedback."

Buzz isn't the only Google business getting the ax. The company is also shutting down its Google Labs site, a move it announced in July . And the Boutiques.com and Like.com Web sites will be replaced by Google Product Search.

Google is also killing Jaiku, a Twitter-like service it acquired in 2007. Its iGoogle social-networking feature will disappear on January 15. On the same date, Code Search, designed to help users find open-source code on the Web, will also shut down.

The moves are part of an effort by Google Chief Executive Larry Page to streamline operations, putting more focus on big bets and cleaving those smaller businesses that don't offer big opportunities. In June, the company pulled the plug on Google Health and Google PowerMeter Services. In August, it shuttered the photo-sharing service Photovine only a week after launching it. And last month, it closed another 10 businesses .


Updated at 12:07 p.m. PT with more details and analysis.

 

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