Google Graveyard: The Top Google Failed Products

Google is certainly the world’s greatest tech giant, with products such as YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, and Google Search synonymous with the internet. But this does not mean the company is immune to failure. Following is a look at just a few of the company’s many failed products.

Google Plus

Google Plus is one of the company’s more high-profile failures. The social media platform emerged at a time when Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr were already rather popular. Nevertheless, the platform saw 90 million users within a year of launch. 

So, what went wrong?

For one, the circle system used by Google Plus was complex and far from user-friendly. The process of creating separate circles for family and friends did not appeal to most users who wanted a simpler solution.

Google also had to deal with the fallout from security flaws, discovering in late 2018 that the personal data from 52.5 million user accounts had been leaking for at least three years. A Google Plus app was also ignored for the most part, with the company only developing an app after it became clear that Facebook and Twitter were using mobile to their advantage.

By that stage, it was too late. Google Plus was finally shut down in April 2019.

Google Web Accelerator

Google Web Accelerator was launched in 2005 to speed up page load times on a user’s computer.

The software was riddled with bugs from the outset, preventing YouTube videos from playing and embedding sensitive personal information in page requests. Google Web Accelerator also tended to retrieve unwanted webpage content and killed webmail sessions as soon as the user logged in.

Google ceased providing support for the software in January 2008.

Google Video

Before Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, the company released its own video platform called Google Video.

Ultimately, Google Video was unable to attract users from YouTube which was starting to gather momentum during the mid-2000s. What’s more, Google Video was a very basic video player that didn’t solve a user problem.

For a large company with significant resources, it was simply easier for Google to acquire YouTube and shut down its own platform. 

Google Answers

Google Answers allowed users to pay a researcher to answer a question they had, with Google taking a percentage of the fee.

Though the fee was typically around $2.50, platforms such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora meant users could find the information for free elsewhere. Interestingly, Google Answers was also competing against Google’s own free search engine.

The service was closed down after approximately 4.5 years.


Knol, an arbitrary term denoting a “unit of knowledge”, was Google’s response to Wikipedia. 

Knol was supposed to feature user-generated articles on a variety of topics and even used the same font as Wikipedia. However, the platform failed to gain traction and was shut down in 2012. 

While Google recognized the importance of creating an accessible knowledge repository, it did not understand the community aspect that made Wikipedia a success. Contributors to Knol who wanted to make edits were at the mercy of the so-called “expert” who wrote the article. This resulted in users uploading duplicate articles instead of trying to improve existing pieces – a fundamental strength of Wikipedia.

Google also allowed article submitters to earn money through their content through advertising. Inevitably, this attracted users with nefarious intentions to the platform.

Key takeaways:

  • Google’s most successful products are synonymous with the internet. But the company has certainly had its fair share of failures. The social media network Google Plus is perhaps the most significant.
  • Google Video was another failure because it did not solve an identified user problem. Google Answers was shut down because it competed with free question-answer services such as Yahoo! Answers and Google’s own search engine.
  • Knol was a Wikipedia-esque knowledge site that also failed to gain traction. In developing Knol, Google did not understand the community aspect of Wikipedia that made it so successful.

Visual Concepts Related To Google Business Model

Google is a platform, and a tech media company running an attention-based business model. As of 2020, Alphabet’s Google generated over $182 billion in revenues. Almost $147 billion came from Google Advertising products (Google Search, YouTube Ads, and Network Members sites). They were followed by over $21 billion in other revenues (comprising Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium), followed by Google Cloud, which generated over $13 billion in 2020.
In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that prioritizes privacy. Thus it throws your data away as a search is performed. Indeed, it simply uses keywords and geodata from the users (if shared on the fly). In addition, the search engine is monetized via affiliate links. Thus DuckDuckGo’s business model proposes an alternative to Google’s business model.
While Google (now Alphabet) has been born as a search engine, it is now a diversified company, even though its core business remains search, as most of its revenues still come from Google, the search engine, and YouTube, the “video engine.” However, as a tech giant, which business is primarily based on advertising, the company does compete with Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft (with Bing), and Amazon (with e-commerce search and its advertising machine).
Google and Amazon are fighting for dominance between e-commerce and advertising. Where Google has a monopoly in the search market. Amazon might gain a monopoly in product searches. In 2020, Google opened its Google Shopping for free to contrast Amazon dominance on e-commerce and prevent Amazon from taking more space in the digital advertising industry, the core business fo Google.
In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.
YouTube is the most popular online video platform, a hybrid between a video search engine and a social media platform with a continuous feed prompted by social interactions and engagement. In fact, the platform is so popular that is the second most visited website on the internet. After being acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion, the platform now boasts over 2 billion registered users. Collectively, these users upload 500 hours of video every minute. The platform competes with other video engines like Vimeo, Dailymotion, and social platforms like IGTV, TikTok, and Twitch.

Read Also: Google HistoryGoogle SWOTGoogle Organizational StructureHow Does YouTube Make MoneyHow To Use Google Sheets, Google Competitors.

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