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Case Analysis of Google Knol Failure

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Google Knol was a project created by Google that contains articles that have scope around science, geography, medical science, history, the entertainment industry, and information about maintaining a tool. This case report aims to analyze what factors cause Google to stop their product services, Google Knol. To create the conclusions about why Google Knol failed which analyze the problems to make solutions which Google should do in the past, I use the SCQ framework (Situation, Complication, and Key Questions), 3C (Customer, Company, and Competitor). In the analysis section also found a comparison between Google Knol and Wikipedia that stands in the same market.


Google is one of the technological company in the world that focus on services and internet products. Google has also been a big technological company and might be monopolized the market in term of technology especially in the services and internet products. Take an example from its product, Google Drive, a cloud storage. On the event of Google Cloud Next on 2018 in United States of America, it is said that the number of user who uses Google drive right now has reached a number of 1 billion users within a period of six years. Comparing Google drive to same cloud storage such as Dropbox, which launched first than Google drive, it can only reach a number of 500 million users within a period of eight years.

Another example we can used to determine that Google is a big technological company in the world is by making a survey of the most common search engine on mobile devices. I am sure that the result might show that the most common search engine is Google search, because Google itself is very popular. Google itself launched the company into a technological company in the world in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Bin. They were a physical doctor student in University of Stanford, they started to make Google to become a private company on September 4, 1998. Since it was built, the growth market of Google has increased rapidly and has produced a lot of products and services, acquisition, also a cooperation with another company in a search engine.

There are a lot of Products or services created by Google that can be accessed to everyone in the world. In Advertisement, Google creates Google Ad sense, a service to offer the company to advertise their inventions, products, or services in Google, such as in You Tube. For those, who watched You Tube, must see an advertisement while trying to watch some videos in You Tube and it not just in a time, but many times. In search engine, which is the key Google that lead the company to become really popular and superior right now in the modern world, Google Search. It was a search engine in website or devices that is most often used by users all over the world. Also there is Google Maps, as it is named, it is a map that makes it easy for users to travel to their destinations. Google Maps is available on a mobile application also available on personal computers. In Communication, Google creates Gmail (Google Mail), which has principles such as email in general, but it is made simpler by connecting to the internet. Google is also famous for its Android, where most of the supporting applications in Android are products and services made by Google.

However, on the other hand, from the many successful services and products released by Google, there are also Google products that fail to show off compared to other competitors, one example is Google Knol. Google Knol was a service created by Google that is intended for users to create an article with the scope of the concepts of science, medical information, geography, history, entertainment, product information, and also instructions on how to fix a product. Knol itself stands for ‘Unit of Knowledge’ which refers to articles on projects that were written by the author. Google Knol was launched on December 13, 2007 and finally opened to the public on July 23, 2008.

Google Knol was a project created by Udi Manber which is a Google vice president of engineering. However, only 3 years since it launched, Google was rumored to be removing Google Knol services for the public. Google Knol was planned to be deleted precisely in November 2011. Because of this, the article content on Google Knol had been moved by the authors to pages like WordPress and Annotum. And finally, Knol was closed on April 30, 2012. All the article content written by its users was deleted on October 1, 2012 where the content were completely non-existent.

Operation of Google Knol

In Google Knol, each user must have a Google account to be able to register and write articles on Google Knol. The authors could write articles of any scope, ranging from scientific, medical, historical, geographic, entertainment industries, as well as instructions or maintenance procedures to a product. Each writer could write anything on the Knol page, but only the original author can edit their own article so that it can often be considered that the article in Knol is an article with the author’s perspective. In addition, there was also Google Ad Sense where the author can get benefit from the advertising space in their article then the profits would be shared for both parties, it was Google and the author itself. There was also a system that was used to block spam in order to prevent fraud in the ad system itself.

Analysis and Discussion

In this section, there are some analyses of the failure of Google Knol to compete with other competitors that are in line with Google Knol. First, I try to describe the problem that was on Google Knol, which at the stage of describing the problem I used the SCQ framework (Situation, Complication, and Key Question).

  • Google Knol had a policy where only the real writer who can edit their articles in Google Knol.
  • Google Knol was only available in one language, English.
  • To make Google Knol account, the user registration was done using a Google account.
  • Google Knol authors could activate Ad Sense on pages that were on Google Knol.
  • The Articles contained in Google Knol could be given comments and ratings.
  • Google Knol could not compete with other competitors who have the same service (online articles).
  • Google Knol did not have good prospects for Google itself.
  • There were many comments about the Ad Sense feature on Google Knol.
  • The average article writer was contrary to the opinion of the reader.

What is the Main factor why Google Knol is Discontinued

From the framework above, in the Situation section that explains what situations that are the fact from Google Knol. In this section are the facts contained in Google Knol itself. In the Complication section, describe the problems that will arise from the situation. Then in the key question section, it is a way to formulate a question that matters to solve the complication. The Question that appears is ‘What is the main factor why Google Knol is discontinued?’

After using the SCQ Framework, I also use framework 3C (Customer, Company, Competitors) to analyze the position of Goggle Knol if viewed from all three aspects. In these aspects there will be a key success factor that causes Google to stop its services. Customer analysis is used to analyze internal and external factors which sustenance the firm’s sustainability, Company analysis countenances us to see the internal organizational capabilities and formulate the Key Success Factor that necessary to the firm’s success. Then, Competitor analysis is used to help us articulating external factors. It is responsible for vision from wider perspective in relation to the part where the firm is missing and/or excellent at.


  • Customers need an attractive interface so it will be more interesting to visit.
  • Customers need a valid source of articles that can be used as a reference to their works.
  • Customers need the writers of articles who have the credibility of articles that will made easy to trust the article in Google Knol.
  • The trend is showing that customers consider that Google Ad Sense as an additional income.
  • Customer need a communicative two ways between the authors and the users.


  • The technological company always Makes an event as an introduction for a new service or product to public so that the public more notice to our product.
  • Google as a world technology company, Google can make Google Knol look better.
  • Google certainly can make a verified system for writers who have a high educational background and qualified scientific work.
  • Google as a company that is engaged in an ever-expanding field, it is certainly often make many innovations.


  • Similar services from other competitors are first famous than Google Knol.
  • In competitor products, all users can edit any article as long as they have an account from the website.

As explained above, in the company section there will be a / some key success factor(s) that affects the company. The key success factor obtained is that Google should be able to make different displays and innovations that should have been created because Google is a company that has many workers who are very active in making innovations. Another key success factor is the author’s verification system in a scientific article.

Wikipedia as one of the competitors from Google Knol, in fact successful with what they have done. If Google Knol wants to survive, it means Google must analyze the patterns that are done by Wikipedia and must be accompanied by a change and capable innovation. Supposedly with the many resources that Google has, Google is able to create innovations. Therefore Google Knol continues to be associated with Wikipedia, even though both products in my opinion have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

In terms of article content, Google Knol has more convenience where users can write articles in any scope, while in Wikipedia there are scope limitations. In my opinion, this is an advantage that Google Knol has, so that more users will use Google Knol for writing. However, on the other hand, this might be unlimited where more users are free to use Google Knol, it will change Google Knol itself especially with availability Google Ad Sense so Google Knol users can only make hoax articles so that they are visited by many other users.

Then from the author’s point of view, Wikipedia has a policy that everyone can edit the information contained in an article, while Google Knol has a policy that only authors can change the contents of the article. In my opinion, at this point, both have differentiation, on Google Knol maybe scientific articles will look original because they are not easily changed or edited by other users, where writing on Google Knol will also be verified by Google. Furthermore in terms of language, Wikipedia is very superior where Wikipedia provides many languages ​​besides English, while Google Knol only provides one language, namely English.

Therefore, if Google Knol wants to survive, the need for new innovations is better. For example, updating the Google Knol page view itself to be more interesting and unique. Then, it would be very nice for Google Knol to filter articles into their parts. Suppose articles containing historical content must be combined with historical content. Then, the availability of other languages ​​besides English, so that users who are not from English language can understand and can write on Google Knol.


From the analysis of the thinking method described in the analysis and discussion section, it was found that the factors that failed Google Knol to compete with products similar to Wikipedia were page views similar to Wikipedia, only available in one language, namely English, verification control from writer of scientific articles. Therefore, Google Knol should make new innovations. For example, updating the Google Knol page view itself to be more interesting and unique. Filtering articles into their parts. Then, the availability of other languages ​​besides English.


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