Google closes more projects as streamlining continues

Google's streamlining continues apace, with the company announcing the closure of another seven projects deemed superfluous to its core competency of selling eyeballs to advertisers.

Joining the Google Translate API and Google Labs in the great bit-bucket in the cloud are a range of side projects and add-ons - although the surprise with many of them is only that they were still alive at all.

In that camp is Google Wave, an ill-fated attempt to redefine the way people communicate which would later inspire parts of the Google+ social networking project. Google announced it was ceasing development over a year ago, but now has offered timeline for the closure of the existing Wave site: on 31st January the service goes read-only, and on the 30th April it shuts down for good.

Google Gears also gets a confirmed shutdown date, following the removal of the browser extension back in March. As Google works to port existing Gears functionality to HTML5 - albeit at present in a format only compatible with its own Chrome browser - it will remove all Gears functionality on 1st December.

The Knol collaboration engine - never particularly well known outside of academic circles - also gets the elbow, with Google offering an open-source WordPress-based platform dubbed Annotum, created in partnership with Solvitor and Crowd Favorite, as a replacement. The existing site will work until 30th April, and go into export-only mode until a full shutdown on 1st October.

Other features are being subsumed into the Google+ social networking site: Google Bookmarks Lists dies on 19th December, Google Friend Connect on 1st March - both of them likely to reappear as extra functionality in the company's attempt to take on Facebook.

Google's handy Search Timeline feature is also for the chop. Previously used to provide a handy graph of historical results for a query, providing a clickable at-a-glance view of when search terms were most talked about. There's no replacement due, but Google does point out its Trends function, which provides similar information back to 2004.

Finally, the Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal - or RE

"At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this research to the next level," Hölzle claims. "We’ve published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we’ve closed our efforts."

It's not all bad news, however: despite working to streamline its business to focus more on search and advertising, Google continues to run some interesting projects - including the newly-updated Swiffy, which looks to convert Adobe Flash content into HTML5 for plugin-free viewing.