10 Failed Google Projects

Google Notebook and Shared Stuff
The Google Notebook team posted their last blog on Jan. 14, 2009. Screen capture by HowStuffWorks staff

While Google Docs has become the shared-document service that Google Wave (more on this coming up) partially wanted to be, the company's never come up with an application that can compete with apps like Evernote for the getting-things-done crowd. Cutting and pasting clips that retain their Web citation seems like a sure thing -- especially when integrated with the browser itself -- which is why Google has tried it so many times.

And even so, at the end of the day, the learning curve or feature load has either been too high, or the interface has been too clunky. The world of squirreled-away factlets and quotations remains firmly under the regime of those app developers with the leanest extensions and the simplest features. When everything's in the cloud, being able to port your notes and tasks and links from home to phone to office is no longer a selling point. (And again, we see the theme of seamless integration of the tech until you can't see it anymore.)

Likewise, the improbably named Shared Stuff tried to work the Google Docs and Google Notebook angles by making those clips and notes available to everybody [source: Pash]. The development had problems -- it's been called buggy, and it never really integrated into the Google world -- but the result was just a less-fun version of social bookmarking sites like Delicio.us, which privileged the "social" aspect of the concept into its own activity: Social bookmarking is exactly what it sounds like, whether it takes the form of Delicio.us, Reddit or even BuzzFeed. What's important isn't so much what you share, but what you and your friends have to say about it. (Those are the aspects of Notebook and Shared Stuff that were integrated into Google Reader.)