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Google kills sickly health, energy projects

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Google is killing its Health and PowerMeter products due to a lack of interest from would-be customers.

The Mountain View Chocolate Factory said that the two projects "didn't catch on the way we would have hoped". As a result, Google Health's life support will be switched off on 1 January 2012, with the data being available for download for a further year.

Google PowerMeter will meet its maker sooner, with the axe falling on that product on 16 September 2011.

"Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home," said Google in a blog post.

"While they didn't scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult."

PowerMeter, which was billed as a home-electricity-consumption cloud service, only launched in the UK in October 2009. The idea behind the product was that users of certain home 'leccy meters would read them via Google's servers, rather than using the online services that come with the meters.

That strategy clearly didn't work, however.

As for Google Health, the company finally took the wraps off the product for US customers in May 2008, having talked about it for a good two years beforehand.

The service was built for creepily storing and sharing personal health records, but there was a major flaw: The records were not protected by the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

So once the data was located on Google servers, the laws that guarded individual medical records that are handled by doctors no longer applied.

The fact that the data remained static without any "social" elements involved also helped write Google Health's death warrant, claimed Adam Bosworth, who created the product. ®

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