The year 2009 saw the launch of many new and genuinely useful Web services, as
well as continued advances from sites that weathered the economic
fallout from the year prior. But not all was sunshine and daisies. Sites, large and small, closed up shop this year.
For many of
the sites on this list, the main reason for closure was that it simply
cost too much to keep things running. Other times it was due to them not
getting enough users through the door to make ends meet.
Here are 15 notable losses from 2009, in
Google Jaiku, Dodgeball, and Notebook Death announcement: January 2009
Apparently the whole "spring cleaning" thing does not apply to Google,
which did its housekeeping two weeks into the new year. In one day. the
search giant announced that it would soon be shuttering its Jaiku
microblogging service, social network Dodgeball (which it had purchased
four years prior), as well as its Notebook service. For the sake of
simplicity, we've condensed them into one slide, and one product in our
count up to 15.
Other, less high-profile sites that were taken
down as part of the sweep include Google's video service, which became
largely useless after the company bought YouTube in 2006, as well as
Google Catalog Search and Google Mashup Editor.
Interestingly enough Jaiku lives on, although not as a funded Google
project. The site's about page now notes that it's being run by a
skeleton crew of Google's engineers who fix bugs and give it some
attention when they're not on the clock. Despite this, many of the
site's once-prominent users have left for greener pastures.
Also, Dodgeball went on to become re-imagined by one of its co-founders
who had left Google prior to the site being shuttered. Dodgeball
co-founder Dennis Crowley came up with Foursquare, a
geographically-inclined social-networking tool that lets users check-in
when they get to bars, restaurants, and other local hot spots.
Yahoo's Briefcase was a somewhat useless service, and Yahoo knew it. The
site offered 30MB of online storage, a number that was quite useful
when it was launched (1999), but that was quickly eclipsed by Web
storage providers, and even Web mail services.
Jubii was a Swiss Army knife of online
communication utilities. It included e-mail, text chat, VoIP, and file
hosting--all in one tool. We gave it a look back in early 2007 and came
away unimpressed with incomplete tools that did not tie into any other
HP's Upline was an online backup
solution built off of Titanize, a product it had absorbed as a result of
acquiring makers Opelin in 2007. Upline let users back up their
home and work computers to the cloud for a yearly fee. And unlike some
of the other storage providers, Upline's paid plans offered unlimited
storage--a nice plus for desktop users with large hard drives.
death notice came in late February, and the service was completely shut
down at the end of March, giving users a little more than a month to
grab their files from HP's servers.
Microsoft's Encarta began as a software
encyclopedia and later moved to the Web. Microsoft ran it as a
subscription service, but in order to compete with free services like
Wikipedia, the company provided portions of it that were supplemented with ads to non-subscribers.
Wikia Search launched in January of 2008
with an oddball idea: let users control the rankings of search results.
The hope was to let people constantly vote up more relevant pages, while
letting the less-relevant pages move down. This was after a machine
algorithm had gone through and come up with the results in the first
Wikia (and Wikipedia)
Jimmy Wales hoped the system would spread across the Web, as it was made
open-source. But it didn't. At its peak the site was drawing some
10,000 users a month, which was markedly lower than some of Wikia's
other ongoing projects. To make matters worse, Google had launched its
own, quite similar solution called Search Wiki, which it deployed to all
its users--thus offering much of the same functionality on a much
SpiralFrog shut its doors on March 19th,
but that was far from the end of the drama for the music streaming service.
In its three-year run, the company had amassed $9 million in debt, and
sent a message to the music industry that ad-supported music was not a
viable, long-term money-making solution.
Matters were made
worse when it appeared that those inside the company had sold user
e-mail addresses to third-party companies, a move that was made just
before the company changed hands to creditors. This also went squarely
against the site's original terms of service, which assured users that
their personal information would be kept confidential.
Jumpcut was a company Yahoo acquired in
2006. It let users edit video clips right in their browser, as well as
host them when they were through.
Jumpcut's death is similar to that of the long, drawn-out ones
you see in movies. The kill shot was actually fired back in December of
2008 when Yahoo began to limit users from uploading new clips to the
video editing service. However Yahoo went for an extremity instead of
the vital organs, extending the life of the site for four months with
little or no explanation on when it would be put out to pasture. Then,
in mid-April the company announced that it was indeed shutting down the
site, which it kept open for another two months. The site was officially
put to rest on June 15, 2009.
Yahoo picked up personal Web site maker Geocities back in January of
1999 for a staggering $3.65 billion in stock. Though poor,
post-purchase choices from Yahoo that changed the site's terms of
service and core functionality led many of its most fervent users to
other hosting providers. This was made even worse by the rise of easy
blogging tools and social networks, which for many was a simpler way to
publish personal information.
Yahoo 360 was Yahoo's attempt at merging
several of its services into one, so as to create a social network the
likes of LiveJournal. Users could jot down blog posts, follow other
users, and pull in bits of data from other Yahoo services including
Flickr. Though many simply used it as a blogging tool. Four years after
its creation Yahoo pulled the plug.
The site wasn't killed off
entirely though. Despite its lack of popularity at large, it was still
quite popular in Vietnam. As such, Yahoo has kept it going as a localized
version of the service, which is still up (and can be seen on the left)--unlike the original
version, which shut down in mid-July.
Searchme's visual search engine launched in
private beta in March of 2008. This was after picking up a $31 million
round of funding, led by Sequoia Capital. The service provided a large
thumbnail of each site from its search results, letting users get a
preview of it before clicking.
Windows Live Events Death announcement: August 2009
Windows Live Events was Microsoft's effort
to replace services like Evite, Facebook events, MyPunchbowl, etc. It
was launched as part of the Windows Live
rebranding back in late 2007, and let users
create events that could be shared publicly. More importantly, it was a smooth move to get users friendly with other
Microsoft services like Live
Spaces and Live
In August, Microsoft announced that it would be
closing up Windows Live Events in favor of building some of its
functionality into Windows Live Calendar. In September, the company
disabled the capability to create new events. Come April 2010, the site
will be well and truly dead, as Microsoft plans to take it offline
Barnes & Noble: Quamut Death announcement: August 2009
Bookseller Barnes & Noble launched
Quamut in March of 2008. The site hosted how-to guides that could be
purchased both as a digital and a physical, laminated copy. Most ran
anywhere from $3 to $6, and covered all manner of topics from software
programs to cooking techniques. It also had a user-created Wiki section
that let people create their own guides.
Barnes & Noble
discontinued the Quamut site and the user-generated Wiki in August,
however, it still sells some of the physical printed guides online and in its stores.
In many ways
Riya was simply overshadowed by tech giants who had time to catch up
with their own facial recognition products. This included Google with
its Picasa Web albums and photo library software (both of which were
offered free of charge), as well as Apple, which introduced its own
facial recognition features as a part of its latest iLife release.
lieu of the fact that the two services were essentially the same, and
that Google Voice was its second iteration, Google in late November,
sent an e-mail to GrandCentral users that the site would be closed down
in favor of moving everyone over to Google Voice. Come next week, Google will make good on that promise.