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Helpouts and Talk put on Google's death row

Barry Collins
16 Feb 2015
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Two more products set to be axed by Google

Google is killing off two more of its communications products: Helpouts and Talk. The search company is notoriously ruthless when it comes to killing off struggling products, although the two most recent additions to death row are being axed for very different reasons. 

Helpouts was launched in November 2013 and provided a means for "experts" to deliver live video tutorials or assistance to people wanting to learn a musical instrument, a foreign language or get tech support for their PC, amongst other things. However, the service was barely promoted by Google and it seems it simply wasn't generating enough interest to remain viable.  

"Since launching in 2013, Helpouts has been a home for people to connect with experts on topics they want to learn about or seek advice and solutions to everyday problems," says a post on the Google Support pages. "The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn't grown at the pace we had expected. Sadly, we've made the tough decision to shut down the product."

The service will be closed on 20 April, and Google is providing tools that will allow people to download their Helpouts history. 

The demise of Google Talk, the company's long-running instant messaging and internet telephony service, is much less surprising. It was effectively replaced by Google Hangouts, which offers many of the same instant messaging and telephony functions, as well as video conferencing. 

Google says it will "deprecate" the Google Talk app for Windows just next week, on 23 February. "If messaging right from your PC desktop is important to you, the Hangouts Chrome app or Gmail on desktop can help you reach your friends while you're at your desk," Google's Mayur Kamat suggests on his Google+ page. "If you’re not ready to make the switch to Hangouts quite yet, you can continue using Google Talk on Windows with a range of compatible third-party chat apps."

The decision has met with anger by users, who complain that Hangouts lacks many of the features and the simplicity of Google Talk. "Another absolutely ridiculous decision by Google," writes one angry user in response to Kamat's post. "Google Talk allows me to immediately answer a Google Voice call within Gmail. It takes a minimum of 3 rings to get a GV [Google Voice] connection with Hangouts. By that time you've missed the call. Bad for users... bad for business!"

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