June 24, 2011 / 11:05 PM / 8 years ago

Google to pull plug on power meter and health services

* Says projects didn’t catch on as much as hoped

* News comes 3 months after Larry Page in CEO job

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO, June 24 (Reuters) - Google Inc (GOOG.O), known for ambitious efforts developing technology outside its main Internet search business, is shuttering two projects that struggled to find a following.

Google Health and Google PowerMeter had sought to change the way consumers access healthcare information and their home energy use.

But Google said on Friday that it will “retire” both in the coming months, noting that the projects didn’t “catch on the way we would have hoped.”

“We want to satisfy the most pressing needs for the greatest number of people. In the case of these two products, our inability to scale has led us to focus our priorities elsewhere,” Google said in a post co-authored by Senior Product Manager Aaron Brown and Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl.

The move comes roughly three months into Google co-founder Larry Page’s tenure as Chief Executive. Google announced the news on the same day that it acknowledged that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun a review of its business practices in search and advertising. [ID:nN1E75N0O6]

Page is considered a big proponent of Google’s experimental projects, such as self-driving cars, as well as of the company’s culture which encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time on projects outside of their day-to-day duties.

But in recent months Google has come under criticism from investors worried that the company’s free-spending ways will take a toll on profit margins.

Indeed, some Google insiders predicted that Page would take a hard look at the company’s manifold projects when he became CEO, placing bigger bets on those that show promise and pulling the plug on others.

Google Health, which was launched in May 2008, provided consumers with a way to store their medical records online. Google said on Friday that the service was popular with certain groups of people, such as tech-savvy patients and fitness enthusiasts, but had failed to catch on with the general public.

The Google Health website will continue to operate until January 1, and consumers will be able to retrieve their personal information until January 1, 2013.

Google said it will terminate its PowerMeter service on September 16. The service, which Google released in February 2009 through its non-profit division, let consumers use the Web to monitor their home electricity consumption. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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