Google Spaces is dead: What will Google learn from it?

Angus Kidman 27 February 2017 NEWS

SpacesIsDying

Google's track record for collaborative tools remains really poor.

It wasn't even a year ago that Google launched Spaces, software which was meant to make it easier to find and share information. But come 17 April, Spaces will be dead, yet another failure in building collaboration tools by Google.

Google confirmed the details in a support post. "Google Spaces will be shut down on April 17th, 2017," the note read. "First, thank you to everyone who used Spaces. It was a tough decision, and it's tough to say goodbye." The service will become read-only on 3 March, and no-one will be able to sign up from that point. Then on 17 April, all existing content will be deleted, some 11 months after the service was launched.

Google hasn't released any official figures on how many people used Spaces, but clearly it wasn't enough. It's telling that the service never expanded from personal Google accounts to G Suite (the former Google Apps For Work - Google has an annoying habit of changing the names of its business products).

So what happens next? "Our goal with Spaces was to create a better small-group sharing experience, and we'll use what we've learned to improve other Google products and services," Google's support note said. It's possible that will happen. One of Google's most infamous previous failures in this space was Google Wave. While Wave itself got killed back in 2010, some elements of it were used for the collaboration features in Google Drive.

However, Google faces one major problem: we already have plenty of services which let us share information, from SMS to social media to modern platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Google might have been able to effectively force everyone with a Google account to sign up for Google+, but nobody wanted to use it. Spaces has suffered the same fate. Where precisely is Google going to roll out a "small-group sharing experience" next?

Recent survey data from Gartner underscores the point. In 2016, 71% of users had some form of messaging app installed, up from 68% the year before. Clearly, we're interested in new ways to share information. It just seems we're not so interested in having Google be the one that provides that.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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