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RIP, AltaVista and Google Wave; we hardly knew ye

Robert X. Cringely | Dec. 20, 2010
A bunch of Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft sites are now dead, Jim. Many more also expired in 2010. Who will be next? Purchased by Apple and presumably folded into the new Ping/iTunes social music mashup. I liked Lala; it was well designed and clever.

Google Wave. Mercy-killed by Google after less than two years, finally allowing us to stop asking the obvious question, "What the frak is Google Wave?" Interestingly, Facebook's new Messages scheme bears a passing resemblance to Wave; maybe we'll be reading its obituary in a year or two.

Google-411. A service I actually used, occasionally. How dare Google take away a free service that saved me $1.25 on a regular basis? I plan to write a strongly worded letter to Marissa Mayer (hopefully, she'll reward me with some cell phone pix).

Cuil (pronounced "cool"). A search engine that was supposed to out-Google Google. The problem: The results it returned were often laughably off-base. Turns out Cuil really rhymed with "tool."

Windows Live Spaces. Microsoft's attempt to get into the blog platform biz ended with predictable results. Here's a clue: Whenever Microsoft attaches the word "Live" to anything, expect it to be dead within the year.

This is the nature of technology and especially of the Web, which those of us caught up in the day-to-day tsunami of news tend to forget: Empires rise and fall with great alacrity. Remember when AOL was the future of all media? Yeah, I never believed that either, but it was convincing enough to fool Time Warner.

HuffPo tech editress Bianca Bosker has a long piece on the rise and not-quite-fall of Microsoft. At one time we thought the company was the Borg; turns out it was more like the Ferengi.

The lesson here is that the mighty do fall -- which folks like Facebook and Google would do well to remember.

Who do you think will be the next Web titan to go belly up? E-mail me:


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