Google Labs to close

Google’s shutting down Google Labs, its sometimes wacky incubator for new and blue-sky projects.

The move apparently forms part of a company-wide streamlining promised by CEO Larry Page last week.

Google Labs has been the incubator for many of the company’s most successful products – Google News and Google Maps, for example – allowing users to play around with potential products long before they reach the market.

“While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead,” says Bill Coughran, Google SVP for Research and Systems Infrastructure.

In many cases, says the company, this will mean an abrupt end to existing Google Labs experiments, although some will be incorporated into other product areas.

“And many of the Labs products that are Android apps today will continue to be available on Android Market. We’ll update you on our progress via the Google Labs website,” Coughran says.

Other projects will continue through the company’s more product-focused experimental operations, such as Gmail Labs and Maps Labs.

“We’ll continue to push speed and innovation — the driving forces behind Google Labs — across all our products, as the early launch of the Google+ field trial last month showed,” Coughran promises.