Google Kills Lively Quickly

from the that-didn't-take-long dept

Just a few months ago, when Google launched its “Lively” 3D chat offering, I questioned Google’s strategy, as it didn’t seem to offer anything different or compelling. Some people here disagreed, and believed Google would be able to turn the service into something compelling, but that appears not to be. Since the launch, to be honest, I can’t recall ever hearing about Lively again — and had pretty much forgotten it existed. And, indeed, less than six months after launching it, Google has killed off Lively, admitting that the experiment was something of a failure.

There seems to be a growing pattern in figuring out which Google projects are a success and which will fail. When it merely copies something others are doing, as with Lively, it tends not to do very well. When it changes the game, as it did originally with things like Google Maps (the first real AJAXy mapping solution) and Gmail (huge storage and AJAXy front end), then it gets usage. Google’s success has always been in reimagining products that people seem to believe are mature, and completely reshaping how people think about those products. That was true with maps (which had been dominated by MapQuest and Yahoo Maps for years) and email… and it was even true in search. People thought the search market was too crowded when Google showed up, but its solution was so different and so much more compelling it got attention. Lively, on the other hand, was a pure me-too play. There are half-a-dozen other offerings that effectively do the same thing. Google didn’t give anyone a real reason to use Lively… and, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Lively is now dead.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Kills Lively Quickly”

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8 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Failure is sometimes the key to success

I have to give credit to Google for trying things. We see so little innovation coming out of big businesses. For Google, failure is an option. They can afford to try 10 things even if 9 of them fail.

Most modern big businesses are afraid to innovate. It is hard for a small business to innovate because they are going probably going to get hit with an absurd patent claim backed up by nothing but an army of attorneys. At least Google is big enough to withstand most of those assaults.

Anonymous Coward #42 says:

You know, seeing as how particular Microsoft is about their branding (like suing Lindows because the name was too close Windows; Lindows was forced to change their name to Linspire), and seeing as how Microsoft’s flagship lineup of web services is marketed under the “Live” badge, I full suspect that had Google’s Lively service become popular, they would have been quickly sued by Microsoft for using a confusing name. And while Lindows should not have been deemed a confusing name since it was a completely different product, using Lively to name a messaging service would definitely be confusing to a lot of people. I’d have to say it was a very poor choice for a name, and very unoriginal, to be honest.

That said, I do like Google and a lot of the things they do and produce. They have been true innovators in the age of information. They’re not perfect, and they don’t always get everything right, but they have done a lot of good. I would go insane if I didn’t have Google’s search engine at my disposal. I’ve tried all other wannabe contenders, and none of them give me the power that Google does in my searching. That startup by former Google employees is a joke, and Ask.com, while it may have funny commercials and nice features geared towards kids doing their homework and stuff, it just lacks the raw power of Google. I don’t need a screen filled with alternate topics, or cutesy little thumbnail popups of the sites in the search results, or anything like that. I know what I’m searching for, and Google delivers quick, accurate results. There’s just nothing else that compares.

Joe (profile) says:

Lively was badly executed, not a bad idea

Lively didn’t garner the support it needed, it didn’t build up a usership, and it made being a user tedious. Loading times were ridiculous, controlling the avatar was a chore, it just wasn’t a good experience.

Now that said the idea itself was excellent. I think it would work best across a number of web forums, or chats to see who else is currently on a forum and allow direct conversations…public or private with those members.

MikeHo (profile) says:

Re: Lively was badly executed, not a bad idea

I agree… Lively wasn’t a bad idea, but it obviously suffered from a poor user experience. But, as others note, this isn’t the only service that Google has offered that is a “copy” that had a chance to be improved upon. Orkut is a long-standing example. Google Reader is another. Google Reader has gotten better over time, but it started out as a very poor copy of Bloglines.

The difference is probably that Lively is resource-hungry… and in this economy, Google probably didn’t want to indulge in supporting a long term project without a clearly-defined revenue stream.

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