What Would Google Do? Fail Quietly.

You may have missed the news, the Google News. A near two year experiment to feature comments from those in the news, has been dropped.

In fact it was dropped back in May.

And if you did miss it, you’re forgiven. After all, it only gets nine mentions on the news aggregator of choice.

Quoted in the New York Times Media Decoder blog, the company said:

“Occasionally … we have to re-evaluate our efforts to be sure we focus on features that make the most sense for our users.”

To borrow someone’s book title, what would Google do? Fail quietly, as it turns out.

For a company that operates in almost constant beta, perhaps fail is the wrong word. Then again, it tried something and it didn’t work.

Rewind to August 2007and this is how Google announced the initiative that would have allowed newsmakers to set the record straight:

“We’re hoping that by adding this feature, we can help enhance the news experience for readers, testing the hypothesis that — whether they’re penguin researchers or presidential candidates– a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story.”

It’s easy to be wise after the event, but in fact a number of people were wise before the event, if not always for the right reason.

Writing in his Search Engine Land blog, Danny Sullivan speculated that “maybe Google’s going to get flooded with comment requests from people who are tangentially mentioned in news stories.”

It didn’t work out like that, of course.

Sullivan also noted, success “depends on whether newsmakers find it worthwhile to participate”. They didn’t.

Meanwhile, Todd Defren writing on the PR Squared blog on 9 August 2007 asked:

“Do you foresee Lindsey Lohan scouring Google News every day? Neither do I.”

He also pointed out that the pace of Google News was at odds with the pace of any legal clarification:

“By the time ‘the official response for Google News’ is ready to go, the topic du jour may have been bumped to the proverbial ‘Page Two’.”

So a rare non-success for Google. Bookmark it.

Related:
‘I Consider Google News A Gift, Newspapers Consider It Theft.’
How Twitter Left Google News Trailing Over Iran

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