Tez. Trendalyzer. Panoramio. Timeful. Bump! SlickLogin. BufferBox.
The names sound like a mix of mid-2000s blogs and startups you’d see onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt!. In fact, they are just some of the many, many products that Google has acquired or created–then killed.
While Google is notorious for eliminating underperforming products–because even though these products often don’t cost much for ongoing operations, they can pose a serious legal liability for the company–it’s rare to hear them spoken of after they’ve been shuttered. In fact, Killed By Google is the first website to memorialize them all in one place. Created by front-end developer Cody Ogden, the site features a tombstone and epitaph for each product the company has killed since it originated.
“This project was born as an act of criticism toward a culture of software product churn. It was ignited by the announcement that Google would be killing Inbox by Gmail,” says Ogden. “I’ve come to call it ‘a place of reverence.’ Like a graveyard, Killed by Google is a place to show respect for what used to exist, and to provide an opportunity for introspection about what one’s digital future holds.”
What’s shocking is the sheer number of dead apps, services, and other tools on the site. I know Google has ended a lot of products, but each tombstone is a trip down memory lane, to the point that these products begin to blend together. Scanning the list, I cannot separate my real memories from fake ones. Dodgeball was Google’s location-based social network. Grand Central was the precursor to Google Voice. I’m sure I’ve heard of both of them before just now. . .or have I?
Ogden designed the site to overwhelm you with a mass of information. Minimal colors, and the use of a single tombstone graphic, purposefully blur the content into an informational fever dream. As a result, what the site ultimately creates is less a simple or searchable archive, and more of Rorschach test–you see what you want to see in this trip down memory lane. “Entrepreneurs find inspiration and renewed vigor in seeing a successful company like Google take a seemingly cutthroat approach to product development. End-users find a place to wax nostalgic about products they have used in the past,” says Ogden. “Some see it as a sign of caution about adopting new technology. Some use it as a flashing neon sign to warn others about a need for archiving and exit plans.”
So what do you see in Killed By Google? Look for yourself, here.