Google the search engine giant launched Google Neighbourly in 2018. They announced the news to shut down the app in April 2020.
Google Neighbourly was built to assist neighbors to discover answers for everyday queries. The India-focused app began its journey from Mumbai.
It reached cities like Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, and Mysore although it failed to scale up. Google Neighbourly was deemed as an ideal solution for users.
It was built on the theory that the best source to look for hyperlocal information is a neighbor. It aimed to connect people in the neighborhood to help with generic information.
The app provided an option to send text messages, queries, and voice notes through the app.
Google being a prime solution provider for most issues, had a great idea to connect people. But was not able to make this app reach its full potential and scale-up.
Google Neighbourly when launched showed the potential of becoming the next best social messaging app. In this article, we will explore the reasons for its failure and learn from it.
Why Google Shuts Down its Hyperlocal Networking App, Google Neighbourly
Neighbourly was developed by Google’s Next Billion Initiative. Keeping the local communities of India in mind, the portal aimed to help discover answers to day-to-day questions, routines, Life-hacks, etc.
In 2018, the app was said to be a tough competitor for Facebook. The hyperlocal social networking app offered crowd-sourced recommendations and solutions.
In addition, the app offered users the option to select a variety of local languages. Its multitude of features was attractive and around 10 million users downloaded the app.
But it became unsuccessful as it did not reach where the company expected. The traction for the app when resulted, was inadequate.
App Annie and Sensor Towers, third-party intelligence services could not provide even sizable data. It failed to gain traction. After that, it could not procure enough users to deliver an engaging solution.
Intriguingly, Facebook also introduced a “community help” feature for users. It allows people to connect, offer assistance, or make requests in their neighborhoods during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Google Neighbourly shut down on May 12th, 2020. The company allowed users to download complete data of their account before October 12th through Google Takeouts.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Google allowed Neighbourly to function for a while. It was a great help for people seeking local information during the lockdown.
Google informed the decision of shutting down the hyperlocal social network app via email. It stated,
“We launched Neighbourly as a Beta app to connect you with your neighbors and make sharing local information more human and helpful. As a community, you’ve come together to celebrate local festivals, shared crucial information during floods, and answered over a million questions. But Neighbourly hasn’t grown as we had hoped. In these difficult times, we believe that we can help more people by focusing on other Google apps that are already serving millions of people every day.”
Google then went on and encouraged users to actively use Google Maps Local Guide. Above all, the maps help people discover and explore places.
Google built other social platforms in order to compete with Facebook. Google+, Google Buzz, etc. but similarly, failed to create lasting impressions like Neighbourly.
However, amidst the rise in the Covid-19 Pandemic, a Google spokesperson explained, “In these difficult times, we believe we can help more people by focusing on other Google apps that are serving millions of people every day.”
“Neighbor is the new way to do storage.” The app provides homeowners opportunities for a passive income and a storage facility for renters.
The app enables people to connect and store their Car, RV, Boat, Trailer, inventory, etc. The services are offered at 50% cheaper rates, 6x the security, and covered by a free-of-cost $25000 protection plan.
Ring presents Neighbors, an app that offers security in the user’s hand. The app offers opportunities for communities to work together and create safer neighborhoods.
It alerts community members about real-time criminal and safety activities. The alerts are verified and sent in by neighbors and public safety agencies.
People. Places. Things. is an app that allows users to stick, capture, and share. Users use AR-enabled stickers to review the people, places, and things in a neighborhood.
The app offers rewards for genuine reviews and opinions to encourage people to engage more.
Neighborly is an open-source social networking app that builds local connections. The app provides a built-in marketplace.
It is where local businesses and traders sell their products, solutions, and services. The marketplace users are verified and create trader profiles.
Neighborly.com assists users to find professional services for homes. It connects home services to the local communities.
They have approximately 3900 franchises across the 9 countries. It enables users to create a free account and customize reminders as well as find offers.
Google encourages its employees to share ideas and innovations as side projects. Moreover, if the idea adds value to Google and its consumers it is picked up and made live.
Gmail and AdSense were side projects, coming from similar humble backgrounds and are dominating their competitors. Neighbourly was also picked up from Google’s side projects.
Google decided to develop the app because most of its products and solutions aim to collect data. Neighborly created an opportunity at the local level to gather information about users.
The app would have brought in hyperlocal information from the communities and social networks. It would have also added more to the information collected from GMaps and Google Business.
Hence, the weak user count was a major reason for the app’s failure. Also, the concept of the app seemed new but the execution was already done by various other social apps.
Google failed to recognize the flaw as a result the information and assistance by Neighborly are accessible on aggregator and social media apps. This was the reason the application could not pass the beta version.
Although it did not attract the desired user base, Google Neighborly still brought in the innovation of using local languages. It was a great feature, especially in a country like India where the languages and styles change with the locality.
This feature made the app popular among users and had around million queries in the first few weeks. Unfortunately, the popularity of the app was short-term.
After that, Google is now using the experience to enhance other solutions. It’s currently endorsing its users to use Google Maps Local Guides to share more local knowledge.
Google Neighborly was developed keeping in mind Nextdoor and Quora. Although this project failed, Google still influences its employees to contribute ideas that could help shape our world.
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