Google pulls plug on Fast Flip, Aardvark

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Google said Friday it is pulling the plug on online news reader Fast Flip, social search service Aardvark, commenting tool Sidewiki and several other products. “Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features,” senior vice president Alan Eustace said in a move he called a “fall spring-clean” at the Internet giant. Eustace said the closures will allow the Mountain View, California-based company to “devote more resources to high impact products – the ones that improve the lives of billions of people”. “Technology improves, people’s needs change, some bets pay off and others don’t,” he said in a blog post. Google said it is discontinuing the products as part of the closure announced last month of its experimental test bed Google Labs. Besides Fast Flip, Aardvark and Sidewiki, other products facing the ax include Google Desktop, Google Web Security, Image Labeler, Notebook and Subscribed Links. Sidewiki allows notes and comments to be posted alongside Web pages for others to read. Google said it will begin removing Fast Flip, which was unveiled in September 2009, from Google News in the coming days. Google’s media partners on Fast Flip include The New York Times, the BBC, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. Other companies supplying content include magazines such as the Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire and Popular Mechanics, as well as online news sites TechCrunch, Salon and Slate. Fast Flip allows users to browse through news stories from Google’s media partners at speeds significantly faster than the time it usually takes to load a Web page. Aardvark uses the contacts in a person’s network to provide answers to questions via the Web at Vark.com, instant messaging, email or Twitter. The announcement of the closure of the slate of products comes a week after Google said it was shutting down Slide, a developer of applications for social networks it bought a year ago.