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Google Redirects Patent Search, Shuts Down Google Related Toolbar, One Pass & Vaccine Finder

google-g-logoAfter only eight months, the Google Related toolbar is headed to the dead pool. That’s one of several Google products being phased out in the company’s latest “spring cleaning” announcement, along with the One Pass payment system for news publishers, Google Patent Search losing its own home page and Google Flu Vaccine Finder.

Google Related is was a browser toolbar that offered contextual information about the web page being displayed in the main browser window. For example, when looking at a restaurant’s website, Google Related would show a map/address, reviews and similar restaurants/businesses.

google-related

In its announcement today, Google says “the product isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and while we still believe in the value provided to our users, we’ll be retiring the existing product over the next few weeks.”

As I said, that’s just one of several announcements. Here’s a quick look at some of the others:

  • Google Patent Search is going away. Formerly available at www.google.com/patents, Google says it’s now offering a better patent search experience through Google.com, and plans to add more patent search features there in the future.
  • Google One Pass has been shut down. This was the company’s payment system for publishers that launched in February 2011. Google says it’s working with its partners to transition to Google Consumer Surveys and other platforms.
  • Google’s Flu Vaccine Finder has been passed over to HealthMap and relaunched there as the HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder.

There are also API- and mobile-related announcements, along with a couple related to Picasa, on Google’s blog post.

Postscript From Danny Sullivan:

When Google Related rolled-out last August. I can recall some worries by some that this was going to push Google products unfairly over publishers. As one person commented back at the launch:

I run a restaurant guide website. When I browse a restaurant page on my site, it pops up offering me links to: Google’s Place page for the same restaurant; the Google maps page for the same restaurant; links to Google places pages for other restaurants nearby; some web results to other competitors sites. Perhaps some of this is useful to the user, but the abundance of links to Google properties makes me more than a little sceptical as to the true intentions here.

If that was really Google’s plan, this stands as a testament that just because Google releases something, that’s no guarantee it’ll do well. See also Google BuzzGoogle Wave, Google TV….

On a personal note, telling us that the Related team will now “focus on creating more magic moments across other Google products” just sounds like Google is going way over on the marketing speak. Related didn’t work. Got it. But “magic moments?” Just give us some products that work, and that will be magical enough.

As for Patent Search, I’m just waiting for someone from Google to complain that it’s not really closing that service, since it’s just “redirecting” it. Yeah, it’s closed, and there’s nothing magical about that. Google wrote:

We’re redirecting the old Patent Search homepage to google.com to make sure everyone is getting the best possible experience for their patent searches.

How on does dumping people who were going to a dedicated vertical search engine on patents to the Google home page which searches the entire web by default become “the best possible experience.”

If you want to do patent searches, you have to be one of the few people who may have caught Google’s post today and noted that there’s an advanced patent search page that’s also being offered. Why not just redirect Google Patent Search to that page? That would have been the best possible experience.

Postscript 2 From Danny Sullivan: Turns out, trying to reach the old Google Patents site at patents.google.com redirects you to the Google.com homepage but with a filter in place to search only against patents. It also says that in the search box, “search patents,” but I totally missed this. That’s much better than I thought, but I think it’ll still be confusing to some.

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