Google announced that they’d be shutting down their Google Labs department this Wednesday in an effort to “put more wood behind fewer arrows.” This is the department of Google that brought such classics forth as Google Reader, Google Goggles, and more than a couple other things in the official Google Inc Developers section of the Android Market. They’ve been responsible for Google Wave, Google Calendar, and of course, the king, Gmail. What the chief engineers at Google Labs Mark Friedman, Aravindh Murthy, Yushi Jing, Joe Marshall, and Andy Hertzfeld will be doing this weekend is still up for debate.
In their official last rights as administered by Bill Coughran, SVP for Research and Systems Infrastructure, Google Labs was, as Coughran noted, beginning to “wind down.” They had decided, said Bill, that they’re prioritizing their product efforts and that while they’ve learned a great deal by launching early prototypes in Labs, they’ve come to the conclusion that “greater focus” is necessary and “crucial” for the “extraordinary opportunities ahead.”
Instead of Labs shutting down forever at the drop of a hat, they’ll be shutting SOME areas down, some experiments, that is, while others will be incorporated into different product areas. This means that items like support for apps that are still very popular on the Android Market made mostly due to the Labs team will continue to be supported by other groups inside Google.
The folks at what’s up until now been known as Labs let us know that they’ll continue to push speed and innovation – the driving forces behind Google Labs – across all Google products into the future. Coughran notes that this has been made instantly evident in the early launch of Google+, which, as we know, is doing quite well with the iOS version of the app being the top free app in the App Store and the app, ironically enough, being the 6th most popular app in the Android Market when this post is made as well – the winning apps may be in place because they’re auto-downloaded on some devices, mind you.
What we’re facing here specifically appears to be the ending of the program that brought us Google Goggles and Google Reader amongst other similar services – the rest will just be folded over. Will your world end? I think not. Will you be able to walk on down to the Google Labs portion of the Googleplex and pour yourself a nice big glass of green beer anyone? No. You’ll have to go over to building 6 instead. That’s where the green beer will be housed from now on.