Focusing on what works, Google shuts down Aardvark

Google’s (s goog) doing a bit of house cleaning today, announcing on its blog that it’s shutting down a handful of properties and projects, including a big one they shelled out $50 million for. Social search company Aardvark is getting the axe just 18  months after being acquired. The explanation? It was just an experiment. It’s also a sign that Google is beginning to sharpen its focus on meaningful projects. Today’s news follows the closing of Slide, Google Health, Google Power Meter, Google Labs, and others since Larry Page became CEO in January.

In a blog post explaining the move to shut down the 10 projects — which Page telegraphed a few weeks back– SVP of Engineering and Research Alan Eustace writes, “This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products—the ones that improve the lives of billions of people. All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products.”

The properties being shut down:

  • Aardvark
  • Desktop
  • Fast Flip
  • Google Maps API for Flash
  • Google Pack
  • Google Web Security
  • Image Labeler
  • Notebook
  • Sidewiki
  • Subscribed Links

Eustace doesn’t specifically go into why they gave up on Aardvark, but adding that the company will still explore the idea of social search. Google Pack’s demise is due to”the rapidly decreasing demand for downloadable software in favor of web apps,” and Google Web Security’s functionality has been integrated directly into Chrome’s safe-browsing feature. For more details on when individual projects will be shut down, see the post.