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Google Reader To Shut Down July 1st

Almost from the very time I started reading blogs nearly ten years ago now, I’ve been doing so via an RSS reader. It is, quite obviously, the most convenient way to keep track of a content on a large number of sites, and takes far less time than actually visiting all the blogs that interests me. Almost from the time that it was introduced, I’ve been using Google Reader as my RSS reader, and when Google developed a mobile app for Android, I started using it right way. Today, we learned that Google will be shutting the service down in just over three months:

The day long feared by fans of Google Reader has come: the service will shut down, the company said.

“We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites,” the company said. “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.”

Google Reader lets users subscribe to and read feeds from all manner of publishers, in a format that resembles an e-mail in-box. Loved by information junkies, the nearly eight-year-old service was once among the most popular ways of tracking large numbers of news sites, blogs and other publishers. It was also an early experiment for Google in social networking, as the service’s sharing features inspired friendships and even marriages. Diehard fans of the service called themselves “sharebros,” as was detailed last year in a lengthy, definitive feature on Buzzfeed.

“The amount of information on the Web is rapidly increasing,” Google said the day of the site’s launch. “Google Reader helps you keep up with it all by organizing and managing all the content you’re interested in. Instead of continuously checking your favorite sites for updates, you can let Google Reader do it for you.”

But tracking news through RSS never gained the scale of core Google products like search, maps, Android and YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and other social sites proved more adept at luring mainstream users to share and read links. RSS became the infrastructure powering highly visual apps like Flipboard, Zite and Google’s own Currents, leaving the bare-bones Reader looking outdated. As Google’s social networking efforts turned to Google+, many predicted Google Reader’s days were numbered.

Still, an ardent group of fans — some of whom led a protest of changes to Reader in 2011, and even began building a Reader alternative – will no doubt be upset that a service that brought many of them together will be going away for good. And a whole ecosystem of apps that rely on Google Reader to power it will suffer the consequences.

In 2011, Google CEO Larry Page famously said the company would put “more wood behind fewer arrows,” deploying its resources more judiciously and killing off products that failed to reach worldwide scale. To date, the strategy has claimed well known products like iGoogle and Google Labs.

Perhaps the reason that Reader didn’t gain more users is because Google didn’t spend much time promoting it and, quite honestly, never really bothered to update it much after its introduction in 2005. I’d also assume that the fact that it’s not exactly a money maker for them played a part in the decision.

Nonetheless, I’m really disappointed. Google Reader was one of the most useful apps I’ve ever used. Not only did it allow me to keep track of countless blogs, but I was also able to keep track of news from sites ranging from The New York Times to Wired. Now, as I continue to search for an alternative to the also convenient but never quite popular iGoogle, I guess I’ll have to find a new RSS reader.

Any suggestions in either regard would be appreciated.

Update: CNet has a list of some possible replacements for Reader. I’ll be looking into them,

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Politta says:

    I feel your pain. I’m using Google Reader since 2007, It’s my front page to be honest. I’ll have to find another one now :(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. @Politta:

    If I find a suitable replacement, I will post about it here at OTB

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. Stonetools says:

    Is Netvibes still a thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Thumper says:

    If you use Chrome for your daily browsing, I use extension called RSS Live Links to put all my RSS feeds into Chrome.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rss-live-links/hcamnijgggppihioleoenjmlnakejdph

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. john personna says:

    I still use reader, and have decided to ride it out. When it goes I’ll take my RSS list and look for something new.

    I suspect most people use Twitter for a similar purpose. Much more fluid, requires less curation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Salvatore says:

    “Google Reader was one of the most useful apps I’ve ever used.” works for me, too.
    And it is a shame for Google to quit it. Simply, there are no equivalent alternatives around.
    It is perfectly fine even without updates, just please keep it!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. @john personna:

    The problem with Twitter is that you miss alot if you’re not on all the time. Also, if you’re a person who follows a lot of people, as I do, the sheer volume means that you’re going to miss alot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Leonardo says:

    God Damn the social networks era. I now see myself going back to Thunderbird and POP3 because you just can’t rely on anything free or online, it seems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. rtms says:

    I use Reader daily for watching all my favorite sites which are numerous. I really don’t know of a good alternative. I’m going to be so lost without it. I can easily use it to post to blogger or some other social site, keep articles etc I like and what not, I think your right, it’s not a money maker so they throw it away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Oh sure, I’m saying that is where the BIG market is though.

    More committed readers are a smaller group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Daniel says:

    RSSOwl looks like a good cross-platform alternative to Google Reader.

    Pains me that they are throwing this feature out.

    http://www.rssowl.org/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    Feedly.com seems to be buckling under the strain as Reader fans look for a new home

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Brett says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    This really sucks. Google Reader is/was a very simple, straightforward RSS reader that was integrated into my overall Google Account. Most of the alternatives are annoyingly over-complex and visual, when all you want is pure text.

    NewsBlur is supposed to be close, but it’s crashing under the strain. I finally got through, and am importing stuff now. I hope. If it doesn’t crash again.

    Seriously, Google. This does not make me want to try Google+.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. john personna says:

    Funny how “our” market can be too small (“hardly anyone uses RSS”) and yet all these sites are crashing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Paul Werner says:
  16. Great, the only RSS reader that allows someone to check/clear their RSS across multiple computers that I’m aware of and a persistent occupant of my pinned tab section on Google Chrome for awhile now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. J.R. Santos says:

    Or you can use BadBlue.com, which aggregates blog stories using Twitter buzz, which is how I found this story…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I agree. If you don’t have a life and don’t check Twitter all the time you miss stuff. I have pretty much given up on it in spite of the fact I don’t really have a life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Boyd says:

    My 1:10,000,000,000 scale reaction is, “This sucks!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @john personna: Is it possible that “not enough people use…” is code for “there’s no data to mine that we don’t already have?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. mantis says:

    Dammit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. I use bloglines.com as my RSS agregator and have been quite happy with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Aaron Wright says:

    Doug,

    I suggest you try out Feed Fiend. It is very simple to use, and makes it easy to skim news for headlines you care about the most. It also has a one-click subscribe tool that makes it easy to find new feeds. It is also totally free. Go try it out at FeedFiend.com. Thanks!

    Aaron Wright, FeedFiend.com

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Salvatore says:

    Aaron,

    is there a way to import Google Reader subscriptions?
    It seems that feeds have to be set one by one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Davebo says:

    It’s called a life people. Seriously. If Google ruins yours you probably never had one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  26. TexMac says:

    Well, isn’t that just ducky. Google Reader has been an important part of my internet life since it was first available. I’ve tried other readers and none of them work the same.

    Damn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Question: What’s an RSS?

    Question 2: What’s a “reader”? I mean, I thought I was a reader.

    Question 3: Won’t the sun rise on July 2, 2013 anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Aaron Wright says:

    @Salvatore: I plan to have a Google Reader import tool available very soon. Thanks for your patience.

    Aaron

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. john personna says:

    Hitler finds out they are canceling google reader. “Anyone who thinks social media is an adequate replacement for an RSS reader, leave the room now.”

    (Using Feedly this morning, and stepping through one-line summaries seems fine.)

    Good work Aaron, always nice to have options.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. mantis says:

    Lifehacker has the best roundup of alternatives as well as info on exporting all of your feeds from Google for easy migration to a new service.

    Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. mantis says:

    @Davebo:

    It’s called a life people. Seriously. If Google ruins yours you probably never had one.

    A short history of the Internet:

    1. People complain about stuff.
    2. Other people tell those complaining that they have no lives.
    3. Repeat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I guess I’m out of the loop. Never knew about “Google Reader,” much less used it.

    I use Google every day, though. What a great technology. Granted, I wouldn’t touch their stock with a 20-foot pole (Google is as overblown today as the likes of Sun Microsystems, Cisco and Applied Materials were, back in the 1990’s), but I have mad respect for their IP portfoliio and their business models.

    Concerning the inevitable whining about this decision of Google’s, well, that’s merely a function of demographics. Specifically the addled and spoiled-brat demographics of the liberal Internet. QED.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  33. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Heh, maybe what you really need is a broader reading list. RSS can help with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. Toni says:

    Google Reader IS NOT DEAD!

    http://SmashingReader.com is the alternative. The only one!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0