Conversely, it was also the year that a number of well-loved web services fell by the wayside. Here are a few of the more notable casualties:
1) Google Wave – if proof was needed that Google can occasionally pick the wrong horse, Google Wave hit the skids in August 2010, a world away from the fight to get an invite to the service back in late 2009.
For many, Google Wave required too much from it’s users, who struggled to get used to the way of working that Google Wave required. However, the decision to cease further development of Google Wave was still a tough call, and reflects Google’s mantra that if you’re going to fail, “fail quickly” .
2) Cuil – remember the fanfare when Cuil, the first major independent general search engine in years, opened it’s doors in July 2008? The claims that Cuil had more pages indexed than anyone else, even Google? And what about the numerous critical reviews about the relevancy of results within days of it’s launch?
For those looking for a reminder of what the service looked like, check out this review on CBC News:
Cuil launched with the odds stacked against it, with commentators comparing it directly to Google, who was worth at the time over $150bn. Nevertheless, it was a brave attempt to tackle the hegemony of Google – a fight which Microsoft and Yahoo! have now taken on.
3) Vox – Vox was a blogging platform that put social networking features at the heart of the product, and had some nice features such as the ability to create your own custom banners to display on your profile, and a deep level of control over which posts were publicly available; a nice service then, but it just never reached critical mass.
The creators of Vox (SixApart, now part of Say Media) have form; their hosted blogging service TypePad is well respected, and their CMS/blogging platform Movable Type is a serious contender to WordPress. A case of one too many platforms to support, possibly.
4) 12seconds.tv – This service started out in July 2008 with a specific premise – to become the ‘Twitter’ of social video sites. Rather than allowing users unlimited running time for the videos they created with their service, 12seconds.tv gave users 12 seconds for each video update (yes, the clue was in the name).
This was actually a pretty smart idea, as the restriction on time took away the need for users to prepare what they were going to say beforehand – anyone can fill 12 seconds, right? That may have been true, but by moving into the video space they took on YouTube, and as Cuil found out, taking on Google is a VERY tough fight indeed.
And one service that managed to dodge the bullet:
5) Bloglines – Bloglines, the long-standing RSS reader, was due to close it’s doors on the 1st October last year. It looked almost a certainty, after Google Reader entered the space and ate their lunch.
Then, at the end of November, MerchantCircle announced that they had reached agreement with Bloglines owner, Ask.com, that allowed them to takeover the provision of the Bloglines service – no doubt helped by the admission that MerchantCircle’s CEO had been using Bloglines since 2005.
MerchantCircle promised a raft of new features – and delivered; multiple ways to view feeds, Facebook and Twitter integration – all new features. Proof that good web products can continue to serve a committed community of users if belief in the product remains strong.