In a move that is disappointing for many, the Internet giant has announced that they have abandoned their ambitious plans to make renewable energy cheaper than coal, thus focusing on fewer and more immediate goals.
They also announced they are shutting down other seven projects, including a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia nicknamed Knol. So far, this is the third ‘spring break’ cleaning of this type they made since Google co-founder Page went in charge in April. The changes probably come as a result of the fierce competition Google is facing regarding mobile computing and social networking from Apple Inc and Facebook, especially as some investors have grown worried of the huge spending of the search giant.
“To recap, we’re in the process of shutting down a number of products which haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward,” wrote Google Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Holzle in the blog post.
In order to excuse themselves from shutting down their renewable energy project, Google announced that other institutions were better positioned to take these plans to the next level. They also said they will continue efforts to generate cheap, renewable energy for themselves.
Plans for this project, which was supposed to bring cheap, renewable energy, started in 2007, when they began researching for technology which could bring down the price of solar energy. In 2009, the company’s so-called Green Energy Czar, Bill Weihl declared that in a few years, the company would be able to produce renewable energy at a price smaller than that of coal.
“It is even odds, more or less,” Weihl said at the time. “In three years, we could have multiple megawatts of plants out there.”
However, according to a spokesman, Weihl quit Google a month ago, most likely as a result of them shutting down their green projects. Other Google projects being shut down? Gears technology, which allows Google’s software to work when not connected to the Internet will go down in December, and Google Friend Connect, which allows website publishers to add social features to their sites will go down in March for all but Blogger sites; it will be replaced by the ‘Google Facebook’, Google+. They will also wind down Google labs, a project which offered public access to experimental products, and shut down products that let consumers monitor their home energy consumption and keep track of their personal health records.
What do you think about these measures ? If you ask me, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth; by applying these measures, Google seems to lose their benevolent giant image, which separated them from the rest of the competition. Google was planning to do renewable energy, they gave access to their Labs experiment and so on; they had lofty goals and were transparent. Now they are giving that all away, of course, to focus on making profit and driving their competitors to a cave. How do you feel about this?
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.