Google plans to shut down Aardvark, the social search and question-and-answer service it bought for about $50 million last year, along with nine other projects.

Technology improves, people's needs change, some bets pay off and others don't, Alan Eustace, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post titled a fall spring-clean.

Eustace stated that some of the products would end completely while others will be merged as features into existing products. Google will also reassign employees working on the affected companies and projects to new areas, according to reports.

The moves to put the projects on the chopping block came after several changes at Google, which has begun moving into social networking and planning a major acquisition.

Larry Page succeeded Eric Schmidt as CEO back in April and didn't hesitate to make changes. In June, the company launched Google+ to rival the likes of Facebook, and last month, the tech giant announced it would be acquiring mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion.

This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience, Eustace said of killing the projects. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high-impact products-the ones that improve the lives of billions of people. All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products.

Here's Eustace's statement on the Google projects shut down:

A fall spring-clean

9/02/2011 12:45:00 PM Technology improves, people's needs change, some bets pay off and others don't. So, as Larry previewed on our last earnings call, today we're having a fall spring-clean at Google.

Over the next few months we'll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features. The list is below. This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products-the ones that improve the lives of billions of people. All the Googlers working on these projects will be moved over to higher-impact products. As for our users, we'll communicate directly with them as we make these changes, giving sufficient time to make the transition and enabling them to take their data with them.

Here's a quick overview of where a number of products and features are headed:

- Aardvark: Aardvark was a start-up we acquired in 2010. An experiment in a new kind of social search, it helped people answer each other's questions. While Aardvark will be closing, we'll continue to work on tools that enable people to connect and discover richer knowledge about the world.

- Desktop: In the last few years, there's been a huge shift from local to cloud-based storage and computing, as well as the integration of search and gadget functionality into most modern operating systems. People now have instant access to their data, whether online or offline. As this was the goal of Google Desktop, the product will be discontinued on September 14, including all the associated APIs, services, plugins, gadgets and support.

- Fast Flip: Fast Flip was started to help pioneer news content browsing and reading experiences for the web and mobile devices. For the past two years, in collaboration with publishers, the Fast Flip experiment has fueled a new approach to faster, richer content display on the web. This approach will live on in our other display and delivery tools.

- Google Maps API for Flash: The Google Maps API for Flash was launched to provide ActionScript developers a way to integrate Google Maps into their applications. Although we're deprecating the API, we'll keep supporting existing Google Maps API Premier customers using the Google Maps API for Flash and we'll focus our attention on the JavaScript Maps API v3 going forward.

- Google Pack: Due to the rapidly decreasing demand for downloadable software in favor of web apps, we will discontinue Google Pack today. People will still be able to access Google's and our partners' software quickly and easily through direct links on the Google Pack website.

- Google Web Security: Google Web Security came to Google as part of the Postini acquisition in 2007, and since then we've integrated much of the web security functionality directly into existing Google products, such as safe browsing in Chrome. Although our previous sales channel will be discontinued, we'll continue to support our existing customers.

- Image Labeler: We began Google Image Labeler as a fun game to help people explore and label the images on the web. Although it will be discontinued, a wide variety of online games from Google are still available.

- Notebook: Google Notebook enabled people to combine clipped URLs from the web and free-form notes into documents they could share and publish. We'll be shutting down Google Notebook in the coming months, but we'll automatically export all notebook data to Google Docs.

- Sidewiki: Over the past few years, we've seen extraordinary innovation in terms of making the web collaborative. So we've decided to discontinue Sidewiki and focus instead on our broader social initiatives. Sidewiki authors will be given more details about this closure in the weeks ahead, and they'll have a number of months to download their content.

- Subscribed Links: Subscribed Links enabled developers to create specialized search results that were added to the normal Google search results on relevant queries for subscribed users. Although we'll be discontinuing Subscribed Links, developers will be able to access and download their data until September 15, at which point subscribed links will no longer appear in people's search results.

    We've never been afraid to try big, bold things, and that won't change. We'll continue to take risks on interesting new technologies with a lot of potential. But by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience.

    Posted by Alan Eustace, Senior Vice President