Surprise: Google Kills iPhone File Sharing App Bump

Only three months after buying Bump and its self-named iPhone and Android file sharing app, Google is shutting down the company and killing off the product and its sister product Flock. With Bump out of the picture, Google has killed off one of the easiest ways to share files between devices, and it happened surprisingly quickly after buying the company.

Goodbye Bump, you've been Googled. In the bad way.Goodbye Bump, you've been Googled. In the bad way.

When Google bought Bump in September 2013, it said the company would continue to operate as it had. Bump CEO David Leib said he was excited about the buyout, which doesn't come as a surprise considering that's part and parcel when Google snaps up a smaller company.

For those that aren't in the know, Bump is an app that lets users share contact information, images, and other items by bumping their iPhones together. It's also like a Rosetta Stone for moving files cross platform because it supports sending content between iOS and Android -- a wonderful bonus that will be missed.

Flock is Bump's photo sharing service, and it's on death row, too. Users have until the end of January to backup whatever content they're storing on Flock before it's gone forever.

When the Bump purchase happened in September I was a little more optimistic about the app's future. I said at the time, "Considering how the SnapSeed purchase went, there's a chance that Bump will stick around."

Not only was I wrong, but I was also surprised at just how quickly Google signed Bump's death warrant. In retrospect, the only real surprise here was how short the time was between purchase and end of life. Google has a well established track record of killing off products, both its own and those that it buys.

Google bought the easy to use 3D design app SketchUp in 2006 and followed that up by building up a strong community of users. In 2012, however, the app's future was in question until Trimble Navigation bought the app.

The Internet search giant also bought the powerful image effects app lineup Snapseed, which so far has fared better. While Google isn't interested in supporting the Mac and Windows versions of the app, it has continued to maintain the iOS version for now.

The company hasn't been so forgiving with other products. Most notably, it killed off Reader, the RSS service it used to take over the newsreader market. When Reader was unceremoniously killed, Google left a void in the market that developers have since scrambled to fill.

Google has also dumped Google Checkout leaving some retailers out in the cold, Google Latitude, and its Alfred Recommendations service, among others. The track record is so strong now that when the company introduced its Evernote-like Google Keep last spring, my assumption was that it wouldn't stick around.

To my surprise Keep hasn't been killed yet. I still expect it to go away, however, much like so many other Google offerings.

Since Google shut down Bump and Flock so quickly, I have to assume the software wasn't really what the company was after. Instead, now looks to me like a talent buyout; Google wanted the coders, not the apps.

Losing Bump opens up a new opportunity for other third party developers to step in with their own apps, but it doesn't take away the sting of seeing Google stop development and support for yet another great tool.

The bottom line is that if Google can't leverage a product to collect user data it can then sell, the product will go away. That's what happened with so many other Google products, and it looks like the company didn't see a way to make that happen with Bump. Since it's the talent Google really wanted, Bump and Flock were just more casualties along the way.