The year 2018 was loaded with breath-taking innovations in the emerging tech space. While it saw many advancements, it also witnessed many controversies and shutdowns of popular consumer-based and enterprise products and companies. While the recent reports are still speculating whether Google hangouts for consumers will be shut down in 2020 or not, there are many tech-based products and companies which were shut down — owing to reasons such as product failure, insufficient funds, unmet expectations or simply because the products were phased out.
As the year comes to an end, here we list 10 such tech shutdowns which took us by surprise.
(They are listed in no particular order.)
1| Google Allo
Launched in 2016, Google in a recent announcement confirmed that it will be shutting down the Allo messaging app in March 2019. It was launched along with Duo video-calling app but failed to sustain similar popularity as Duo. As Google has been struggling to set a foot in the messaging space, Allo failed to meet with expectations. This smart messaging app was integrated with Google Assistant. According to an official statement, Allo will work only till March 2019 and until then users will be able to export all the existing conversation history from the app. This comes after Google veered its investment on other smart apps such as Smart Reply, GIFs, desktop support etc.
In another shocking announcement by the tech giant earlier this month, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ in April 2019 due to the massive data leak, which was the second data breach that the social media application faced. The bug apparently affected 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ API, which resulted in unauthorised access to the profile of users. While Google CEO Sundar Pichai also testified before the House Judiciary Committee around the same, Google denies that any user data was compromised to the third party.
3| Google’s Visualisation Tool Fusion Tables
Google announced that would shut down its data visualisation tool which was commonly used by data journalists. Flaunting a huge user base, the tool was launched nine years ago to visualise large datasets, especially on the map, without using complicated codes. However, a blog by the company suggested that it has now shut it down and hinted other alternatives to create map visualisations such as CloudSQL, Sheets and Data Studio and more.
4| Google Inbox app
Google also announced that it will shut down its Inbox app by the end of March 2019. While the exact date is not revealed, it has created a transition guide to help users of Inbox shift to Gmail. The company stated that as Gmail continues to improve, it is bringing the best features from Inbox. Inbox was launched in 2014 as a standalone app to exist alongside the Gmail, however, it could do only limited things.
5| Google Dragonfly
It is well known that Google’s search engine has been blocked from China since early 2010 owing to government policies on censoring searches. To deal with this, the search giant reportedly started working on developing a censored search engine for China. However, now the company has shut down a data analysis system crucial for the development of the censored Chinese search engine, known as Dragonfly. It was reportedly done so after internal rifts over the controversial project.
6| Lighthouse AI Shuts Down
The US-based AI startup was shut down after it failed to achieve commercial success that they were looking for. The startup kicked off with delivering useful and accessible intelligence to homes in the form of advanced AI and 3D sensing technology. The security camera offered by the company used artificial intelligence to get a much more focused picture of what the device is recording. The camera could perform facial recognition and over time learn the faces of familiar faces to help in alert settings and more.
The social scoring service, Klout run by Lithium Technologies was shut citing reasons that the product was not aligned with its long-term strategy. The company’s official website stated that While Klout acquisition provided Lithium with valuable AI and machine learning capabilities, but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with their long-term business strategy. Klout helped users analyse their social media activates and award them with scores. Now the company plans to use all the data collected for its own AI-based products. It was closed down in May this year.
8| Facebook Shutting Down M
The text-based virtual assistant by the social media giant was shut in early Jan. It used human workers to train an AI-system which was available through a bot on Facebook Messenger in a beta version. While it was available to only select few people in California, it could perform tasks such as making automated suggestions for payments, making plans, sending stickers and more. Stating that it to be just an ‘experiment’, the decision was taken to shut it down after working for three years on it.
Some of the other mentions in the list are shutting down of Yahoo Messenger, which was shut in July this year, Google URL shorten which was one of the easiest sweetest ways to shorten URL, closing down of StumbleUpon, a Canada based company that provided internet discovery platform. Its operations were closed after being in the business for almost 15 years.