Under Larry Page, Google has had the stated strategic goal of putting "more wood behind fewer arrows." The company may dabble in robotics, but the company has steadily reduce the number of products it supports for public web users.
Simultaneous with these efforts, I noticed the demotion of Scholar among the company's offerings. Product updates were few and far between. Given that Google can hire lots of people to do just about anything, the steady-state of Scholar gave me the idea that perhaps Google was going to sunset the service. Google has been mum on the topic.
But perhaps not. Tucked away in a Science Magazine news story, we find a ray of hope for Google Scholar. Anurag Acharya, the Googler who created Scholar, told reporter John Bohannon that the service is in fine shape.
"Although Google Scholar generates no direct income, Acharya is upbeat about its future," Bohannon writes. "While he declines to reveal usage figures, he claims that the number of users is growing worldwide, particularly in China. And the Google Scholar team is expanding, not contracting. 'Rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated.'"
If true, this is great news! Scholar (and Microsoft's Academic Search) are a mindbogglingly useful intermediate step between scholarship and public knowledge.
Anurag, all you had to do was tell us that everything was OK. We fret because we love. It's not as if the rumors could not have been quelled a long time ago by simply telling people who depend on the service what was happening. Or by releasing new features.