25
July
2011
|
08:21 AM
America/Los_Angeles

Google's Closure Of Labs Signals Big Change, And Good News For Startups...

A new CEO always brings a broom with them, and Larry Page's return to the job at Google includes a major sweep of management and company priorities.

One of the casualties is Google Labs, a fairly large collection of small apps and other services, mostly used to enhance current Google services, such as GMail, but also to show off some of the projects Google engineers have produced during their 20% time -- the allocation offered for non-work projects.

Veteran tech journalist John Dvorak wondered why? Google Labs is being closed.

This is a disaster for users. I can see no real rationale for turning off the labs...

... what does it take to maintain a webpage with old projects? Even with no support, many of these old programs and ideas are useful to some people. What does it cost to keep the pages alive on the servers?

It no longer works like it did back in 1987, when the old code had to go, because the hard disk was being chewed up.

I can see the reason. Larry Page wants to work on much larger projects, large infrastructure stuff that will make a big, big difference in the world. Not piddly little stuff. Google Labs, which includes projects such as returning the "beta" label to a user's GMail page, doesn't qualify as a world changer.

However, the closure of Google Labs is a game changer for many small startups. It signals that Google isn't interested in competing with their services or products, some of which were in Labs.

Google can offer lots of web based services without requiring monetization -- its revenues from advertising subsidize a broad range of services that some startups are trying to earn a living from.

It's hardly a level playing field when your competitor is offering something similar for free, and isn't even trying to monetize it. At least with a competitor that is trying to build a business, there is a mutual need to monetize, which dictates strategy and also helps build a paying marketplace.