Google services and survival: Will Android make the cut?

May 9, 2013
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Android

Google is known for scuttling services that are no longer deemed to be beneficial or profitable. But with trends and statistical analysis going against legacy Google apps and social, will more recent efforts like Android and Google+ still be here a few years down the road?

Google is a company known for experimentation. After all, with all that resource and talent, you can expect Google to take the adventurous route in launching new services left and right. Take for instance apps that came from Google Labs, which is the source of a handful of apps and features we take for granted as mainstream products today.

But it’s not all rosy for these products and projects. Google does cancel apps and products that are no longer deemed in line with its overall business strategy. Take Google Reader, for instance. Even with millions of active users, Google decided to close down the service by July this year. And according to statistical analytics, there are a few factors common among services that Google discontinues, and it is likewise for services and apps that Google decides to keep.

The analysis on Gwern.net is a bit lengthy, although it takes into consideration various data points and factors, such as the use of FLOSS, and whether the app is related to social media. Here are a few findings. In gist, for a Google product to survive, it has to have the following criteria:

  1. Not be an acquisition
  2. Not be free, libre or open source software (FLOSS)
  3. Be directly making money
  4. Not be related to social networking
  5. Have lots of Google hits relative to lifetime
  6. Have been launched early in Google’s lifetime

In all, Google has a shutdown rate of 35 percent.

The analysis actually made a listing of risk factors for popular Google services, which includes both a five-year survival rate based on these criteria, weighted with the author’s own personal prediction. Notably, Project Glass only has a 37 percent five-year survival rate. However, the risk factor was a low 0.10, which means Glass is one of the Google products likely to go beyond five years.

Strong apps include Search, News, Books and AdWords, among others.

Now taking into consideration our original question: will Android last five more years? Consider that Android does not fall under criteria #1, #2, #3 and #6 (possibly even #4 since social networking remains to be a popular application on mobile devices), does this mean that Android has a low survival rate?

Not necessarily. As the author posits, Android is one of those products that are big enough that “Google losing interest would not be fatal.”

How about apps like Google+, then? The social network only falls under #1. Consider also that earlier attempts at social networking, like Google Wave, failed. It seems that Plus has now become a catch-all for all of social-related services, and “anything to do with social will now either be merged into Google+.”

So no worry here, folks. Our favorite Android and Google+ are safe, at least for the foreseeable future.

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