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Google kills Knol, Wave, and others to focus operations

The Web giant's latest round of product cuts includes a failed real-time collaboration tool, a browser plug-in, and a stab at reducing renewable-energy costs.

Google continued to kill off businesses today, as it streamlines operations, axing its would-be Wikipedia rival, Knol, and Wave, a real-time collaboration tool.

Earlier this year, Google Chief Executive Larry Page announced plans to shed businesses that didn't offer big opportunities in order for Google to focus on the ones that do. Along the way, the company has killed off Buzz, a social-networking attempt; Google Health, a personal health records service; and Google Desktop, a PC application that let users search for files and documents on their computers, among others.

Google is winding down its largely unsuccessful Knol site in May.
Google is winding down its largely unsuccessful Knol site in May. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

The latest round of cuts, announced in a blog post by Urs Holzle, senior vice president of operations and a Google fellow, includes Google Bookmarks Lists, which let users share bookmarks with friends, and Google Friend Connect, which let Webmasters add social features to their site.

Knol, launched in 2007, will continue to work until April 30. From May 1 to October 1, articles published on the site by the community, known as knols, will no longer be viewable, but can be downloaded and exported. After that, Knol content will no longer be accessible.

Google stopped development on Wave more than a year ago. As of January 31, it will be a read-only service, and users won't be able to create new posts. On April 30, Google will turn off the service completely.

The company is also completely killing Google Gears, a Web plug-in that it already removed from its Chrome browser in March. On December 1, Gears-based offline Gmail and Calendar will stop working across all browsers. And later in the month, Gears will no longer be available for download.

The company is also removing the Google Search Timeline's graph of historical results for queries. Web surfers, though, will be able to restrict searches to particular time periods using the tools on the search page.

Google is also shuttering Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal. Google developed the initiative to drive down the cost of renewable energy. But Holzle wrote that "other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this research to the next level."