Google to Shutter Google Labs in ‘Streamlining’ Effort

Google is shutting down its Google Labs experimental project incubator as part of an effort at “simplifying and streamlining” the company’s product lines, the search giant revealed on its official blog Wednesday.

Referencing Google CEO Larry Page’s recent memo to employees explaining the company’s decision to retire its Google Health and PowerMeter services, Bill Coughran, a Google senior vice president for research and systems infrastructure, wrote that shuttering Google Labs was also part of the company’s new agenda of “prioritizing our product efforts.”

“While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead,” Coughran wrote in a blog post titled “More wood behind fewer arrows.”

“In many cases,” he wrote, “this will mean ending Labs experiments—in others we’ll incorporate Labs products and technologies into different product areas. And many of the Labs products that are Android apps today will continue to be available on Android Market.”

Google Labs, currently run by engineers Alon Halevy, Matthew Watson, Henry Rowley, Trevor Johnston, and Mohamed Eldawy, has served as testing ground for new Google projects and features added to existing Google products and services, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Wave.

Testing on the Labs website was often conducted on an invitation-only basis, a process Google used in the initial rollout of its new Google+ social networking service launched in June.

“We’ll continue to push speed and innovation—the driving forces behind Google Labs—across all our products, as the early launch of the Google+ field trial last month showed,” Coughran wrote.

Google advertised the soon-to-be-closed Google Labs forum as “a playground where our more adventurous users can play around with prototypes of some of our wild and crazy ideas and offer feedback directly to the engineers who developed them.”

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