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powering highly visual apps like Flipboard, Zite and Google’s own Currents, leaving the bare-bones Reader looking outdated.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,