10 Failed Google Projects

Google Buzz
In retrospect, most people view Google Buzz as an evolutionary step toward Google Plus. ©iStockphoto.com/Giorgio Magini

The first thing Google Buzz did wrong was sneak up on users. In February of 2010, it was automatically added to Gmail, as an opt-outservice that sneakily appeared as a folder in the comfy old Inbox without warning.

So what was inside that spooky new folder? It was Google Reader, in essence, which was a great experience during the time it was most-used -- before, that is, RSS as a Web standard gave way to personally-curated tablet readers (including Google Currents) and similar app-based ways of keeping track of our favorite sites. Which was a transition that was already underway when Buzz appeared, so Google's initiative basically amounted to (or would, over the next year) just another folder with a continually rising "Unread" count, with all the subconscious stress that entails.

Perhaps if Google Buzz had incorporated some sort of reward for getting through those -- formerly enjoyable! -- updates from our favorite sites, it would have done better. In any case, the tablet revolution has brought the cycle back around: Now, we read magazines on something shaped like a magazine, rather than reading blog posts on something shaped like our e-mail. In late 2011, Google put Buzz out to pasture [source: Wasserman].