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Websites that died in 2009

2009-12-30 08:31 BJT

BEIJING, December 29 (Xinhuanet) -- While some websites have flourished in 2009, most notably Facebook and Twitter, others have fallen by the wayside. Many sites that died were relatively small enterprises. But even the big Internet giants, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo ditched once popular services and websites.

January saw Google's changes to Jaiku and Dodgeball. Jaiku, a social networking, micro-blogging and lifestreaming service comparable to Twitter, was not shut but will be left to flounder. On January 14, 2009 it was announced that Google would be open-sourcing the product but would "no longer actively develop the Jaiku codebase" leaving development to a "passionate volunteer team of Googlers". Dodgeball was a location-based social networking software provider for mobile devices. Users would text their location to the service, which then notified them of crushes, friends, friends' friends and interesting venues nearby. Dodgeball was shut down by Google in March 2009 and replaced with Google Latitude. Google Notebook was also shutdown for new users as cloud services like Google Docs increased in popularity. Another cloud service owned by Yahoo also announced its closure in January. Yahoo's Briefcase had been deemed somewhat useless by many observers. The site offered 30MB of online storage, a number that was quite useful when it was launched in 1999. However this was quickly eclipsed by other Web storage providers and Web mail services. Users were given two months to download any files before it was shutdown.

February saw the demise of Jubii, an online communication utility. It included e-mail, text chat, VoIP, and file hosting--all in one tool. However it was seen as being incomplete with tools that did not tie into other existing services. The Jubii brand was actually an attempt to repackage the Lycos brand to U.S. users, however it, along with the European versions of Lycos Mail and Tripod Internet hosting, were shelved in mid-February. HP's Upline was an online backup solution built off of Titanize, a product it had absorbed as a result of acquiring makers Opelin in 2007. Upline let users back up their home and work computers to the cloud for a yearly fee. Unlike some of the other storage providers, Upline's paid plans offered unlimited storage. But in late February Upline announced it was to shutdown the service at the end of March, giving users a little more than a month to grab their files from HP's servers.

Microsoft's Encarta began as a software encyclopedia and later moved to the Web. Microsoft ran it as a subscription service, but in order to compete with free services like Wikipedia, the company provided portions of it that were supplemented with advertisements to non-subscribers. But in late March, the software giant announced that it would be discontinuing both the online and software-based versions of the site. The service was finally shelved in October though the company continues to use Encarta's namesake for its free, online dictionary service. Japan's Encarta site remains online but is due to close on December 31, 2009.

Wikia Search launched in January of 2008 with the idea that it let users control the rankings of search results. The hope was to let people constantly vote up more relevant pages, while letting the less-relevant pages move down. Wikia and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales hoped the system would spread across the Web, as it was made open-source, but it failed to do so. At its peak the site drew around 10,000 users a month. But with competition from Google's own similar solution, called Search Wiki, Wales called it quits on Wikia Search in March.