Google is to wind down its Google Labs initiative, which showcased some of the company’s experimental technologies, the internet giant announced on Wednesday.

“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,” Bill Coughran, senior vice president for research and systems infrastructure, wrote in a blog post.

The move was seen as part of an effort by founder and chief executive Larry Page to focus the company more tightly on revenue-generating products, but still raised eyebrows because the project has been the birthplace of some of the company’s most widely used products such as Google Maps and Google Reader.

According to PCWorld.com, Google will continue to encourage employees to spend 20 per cent of their work time on projects of their own invention, and will also continue product-specific labs such as Gmail Labs and Search Experiments.

“There won’t be any immediate changes to in-product experimental channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We’ll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products, even as we move to retire the Labs name,” a company spokesman said.

“We’re going to keep experimenting and innovating, but we want to do it at a larger scale. We’re re-focusing our efforts on projects with global impact and making even bigger bets there.”

Keywords: Google LabsR&D