Google killing Social Graph API, Picnik, GMC Exchange backup

Friday afternoon, Google announced the future plans for six of its properties: Google Message Continuity (GMC), Sky Map, Needlebase, Picnik, Social Graph API, and Urchin. The company has determined that each of these products is either redundant, underperforming, or incongruent with Google's overall experience.

Like the retirement of Google Labs six months ago, some of these projects will be merged with others, some will be open sourced, and some will simply be wound down for good.

Sky Map - Sky Map was released for Android in May 2009 after a handful of Google employees built it in their "20 percent time." The unique augmented reality star map has been open sourced under the project name Stardroid, and is available for astronomy enthusiasts to tinker with right now. Google's Sky Map engineers are also collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University, and its development will now be driven by the students.

Picnik - Google bought Picnik from Yahoo in March 2010, and it will be retired on April 19, 2012. Anyone who subscribed to Picnik's premium tier will get a full refund, and from now until the product is shut down, premium services are free for all.

Social Graph API - This product could index the public Web using XHTML Friends Network (XFN), Friend of a Friend (FOAF) markup, and other publicly declared connections to trace connections between public sites. Google's VP of Product Management Dave Girouard says it "isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like," so it is being deprecated today and shut down for good on April 20, 2012.

Urchin - Google bought Urchin software seven years ago and by one year later it had turned into Google Analytics. "The Urchin Software product has now been completely overshadowed by its tremendously popular offspring," Paul Muret, Director of Engineering on the Google Analytics team said on Friday. "So it is time that we now complete the cycle by officially retiring the Urchin Software product and focus exclusively on online analytics."

Needlebase - When Google acquired Massachusetts-based airline software company ITA last April, it took on the still brand new Needlebase project for data acquisition, integration, and publishing. Needlebase today said, "We've been hard at work planning how to best integrate Needlebase's technology with Google's portfolio, which includes structured-data initiatives like Fusion Tables, Google Refine, Public Data Explorer, and Freebase. As we focus on our next steps, needlebase.com will be retired on June 1."

Google Message Continuity (GMC) - This product was for enterprise customers using Google's services as a cloud email backup to on-premise Microsoft Exchange deployments. Google is canceling this service and concentrating solely on Google Apps. "In the time since we launched, we've seen hundreds of businesses sign up for it," Girouard said on Friday. "By comparison, in that same time, we've seen millions of businesses move entirely to the cloud with Google Apps, benefitting from disaster recovery capabilities built directly into Apps." Google will continue to support the service until the end of all of its customers' contracts.

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