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Google cancels Picnik and closes a few other businesses

The Web giant continues its purge of peripheral actitivies, shuttering the photo-editing service, its social graph API and four other businesses.

Picnik's editing interface

In its continuing effort to bring focus to its operations, Google said it will shutter a half-dozen businesses--including Picnik, the photo-editing service that the company acquired less than two years ago.

Since the middle of last year, Google's been on a slashing binge, cleaving under-performing and peripheral businesses from its portfolio. In October, it announced plans to kill its Buzz social network. In July, it discontinued Google Labs. And in June, it pulled the plug on Google Health.

Google vice president of product management Dave Girouard said in a blog post that the latest round of cuts comes as the company works to build better services into the company's user experience.

"That means taking a hard look at products that replicate other features, haven't achieved the promise we had hoped for or can't be properly integrated into the overall Google experience," Girouard wrote.

Picnik is probably the best-known of the services Google is killing. The companybought the online photo editing service in March 2010, and plans to end the service on April 19. Instead, Google plans to offer photo editing "across Google products," Girouard wrote. It's already building some basic photo features into its Google+ social network, a likely spot for some Picnik services.

Picnik users can download a zip file of their creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. And until its demise, Picnik's premium service is free, and its premium subscribers will receive full refunds.

Google is also dropping its Social Graph application programming interface. The API was designed to give developers tools to use information about public connections between people.

"The API isn't experiencing the kind of adoption we'd like, and is being deprecated as of today," Girouard wrote, noting that it will be fully retired on April 20.

Google is also closing Google Message Continuity, an email disaster recovery product for corporate customers that launched in December 2010. Instead, Google will be pushing its Google Apps business.

Google Sky Map, an app created by a handful of Googlers in its Pittsburgh office, will be open-sourced in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. Needlebase, the data management platform picked up in the ITA Software acquisition last June, will go away, possibly integrated into Google's other data-related initiatives. And the company is closing its client-hosted web analytics product, Urchin Software, instead focusing on its online product.