Maybe Google'S Free Stuff Ain't So Great

Stocks: (GOOG)(YHOO)

Google shut down its Google Answers service. Yahoo! still has its competing service which has provided 160 million answer since last December. Google’s product charged a nominal fee, which may be what it didn’t work.

Google may be hitting an inflection point now. With huge success in its text ad business, it has experimented with a number of new businesses. Google Video, which has been enhanced by the YouTube purchase. Google Earth, GMail. Blogger. Picasa, it photo sharing service. It’s new spreadsheets and docmuments product to compete with Windows.Google Checkout to compete with Ebay Paypal (that has been a big success). Google Finance. And, a few more.

They can’t all work. Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is a businessman. He has run other companies. He knows when to take a loss and walk away. And, it is becoming increasingly evident that some of the initiatives are broken.

Google probably needs to have its own e-mail and chat platforms. Blogger seems to be the world’s No. 1 blogging platform, but its only source of income would appear to be the Google text ads that run on most blogs. So, perhaps those things stay.

But, products like Google Finance and Picasa are simply failures. Google Finance cannot be found on the Nielsen ratings for the top financial sites. Several services are ahead of Picasa. They range from Yahoo!’ Flickr to independents like Photobucket.

Google has shut down Answers. Investors should hope that a few other losers go soon as well.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at [email protected]. He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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