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Google kills Google Reader, says it will go offline on July 1, 2013

Google (s goog) is doing a second round of spring cleaning — its euphemism for small projects it finds unworthy of its time and efforts — and is killing off a whole bunch of projects, the biggest of them being Google Reader. In a blog post Wednesday afternoon, Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of Technical Infrastructure, announced the pending closure:

Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple devices. It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact. So today we’re announcing some more closures, bringing the total to 70 features or services closed since our spring cleaning began in 2011

Image (3) google-reader.jpg for post 28194

The other projects that are being euthanized include Google Voice for Blackberry, Calendar API, Snapseed for desktop, Search API for shopping and others. However, it is the loss of Google Reader that is going to impact a lot of people — especially those of us who actually love using RSS feeds to plow through hundreds of feeds. I use it in combination with Reeder app on my iPad, iPhone and Macbook Pro to stay on top of the technology world.

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. 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.

I take issue with Urs’ comments about usage declining. It declined because the company put no resources into the product and took away social features that made it useful for many. It was a project that was orphaned because it didn’t fit into Google’s vision of a machine-driven reading experience. Despite minimal resources devoted to it, Google Reader was one of the better apps built by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

It is probably my second-most used Google service — after GMail — and I have always been befuddled by Google’s lack of desire to make Google Reader into a bigger reading platform. It could and it still can evolve into a Flipboard type service, but that would mean that Google would have to put resources and some real creative thought into Reader.

I wish they would reconsider this decision or, better yet, release the project into the open-source community so that someone can build a follow-on product.

Update: Folks from Feed.ly are offering an option for all of us left at the altar by Google’s decisions.

Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandie back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.

A Feedly spokesperson tells us:

Our goal is to have the API be identical to the Google Reader un-official API. So any client which plugs in to the API should be to easily migrate to Normandy. There are just a few things around authentication and ordering of categories and feeds which might be different.

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55 Responses to “Google kills Google Reader, says it will go offline on July 1, 2013”

  1. Jonathan Ago

    google got a problem coming or already happening, if they are closing down 70 lagging products to focus on its core business. means, some crazy stuff is happening at google. I expect some bad news by end of the year.

  2. Google Reader (with NewsRob on Android) is my main mechanism of keeping in touch with emerging technologies, companies and industry trends. I would be lost without it. Truly lost. I know that someone (Feedly, NewsBlur, Digg or whomever) will fill this void if Google decides to keep Reader on Death Row. But what a crying shame. End of an era. Come on Google, do the right thing here!

    The petition to get GOOG to reconsider at change.org is now at 112,237 signatures; “only” 37,763 remaining to hit the 150k target!

    I just signed up; I was the 112,237th signature ;-)

    https://www.change.org/users/timodonoghue.

  3. Ty Whalin

    From what I have read in the past, Google FeedBurner is going away as well. This and Google Reader are two services that are used by millions. Should be interesting to watch how people adapt to the changes along with some sites plummeting because of RSS feeds they have created from Google FeedBurner.

    • I think the fault was all ours to believe in just one vendor an basically give up on others. The key issue here is what happens next. I really wonder if we will see something at this scale again in the RSS Reader business. Thoughts?

      • Don’t think Google has a clear strategy about where each product should be placed. They started G+ instead of building it on Gmai , Gtalk , Reader and so on and build on something we already used . Reader ,Calendar and Alerts could be subsections of Google Now but it seems that Google is too fragmented to do it right.
        Google is killing Reader but i don’t think they considered indirect revenue and the strategic importance of the product .How many links on social networks originate from a Reader user and how costly is it to lose that user?
        Social is a bubble right now and fatigue should start to hit soon causing a decline in usage and killing some sites, Reader is a very efficient tool that could grow if promoted a little bit. Information overload has been a significant problem for many of us for quite some time but for most , that are only now online a lot because of new devices ,it’s only starting to be a problem and Google should be putting more effort into helping us with that problem ,instead of killing such products.

      • Alan Ralph

        Unsurprisingly, Dave Winer has had a *lot* to say on the subject of Google Reader and RSS feeds. This post in particular – http://threads2.scripting.com/2013/march/oneGreatThingAboutTheDemiseOfGoogleReader – suggests that not only did Google pretty much run all the other RSS reader services out of town, it then proceeded to bend RSS itself out of shape to suit itself. Sounds awfully familiar – I recall similar accusations made at Apple for doing a similar thing to podcasts by having its own standard for publishing via iTunes.

        I suspect that the demise of FeedBurner could prove even more problematic. A lot of blogs and podcast sites are going to have to create new feed mechanisms – and in the latter case, possibly have to fork out for extra capacity from their ISP or content distributor.

        Dave also has some suggestions for those thinking of creating a new Google Reader – http://threads2.scripting.com/2013/march/theIdealRssReader – time will tell how many can rise to the challenge *and* stay the course…

  4. hortron

    I’m shocked too. Perhaps usage was declining, but the core userbase is made up of extremely high value/high engagement types. It’s almost like Google owned a really desirable market and is completely throwing it away. Who does that?

  5. William Toll

    With 9,735 feeds in my Google Reader it’s the best magazine I have ever read – I see the popular media like GigaOM, but I also see the long-tail of the blogsphere that provides value to all of us. Google no longer wants to index and organize the web. My guess – they kill Blogger next.

    • Alan Ralph

      I think Blogger is safe, for now. But I expect that Google Friend Connect will either disappear or become part of Google+ in an effort to hook more of Google’s users into their social web. The only other service that Friend Connect linked up to was Reader, so with that gone I think the writing is on the wall…

  6. I stopped using Reader when they updated to the new format because it was completely unusable on the small screen(netbook 7″) I use to do most of my web browsing. After a month of putting in suggestions and complaints and asking for alternatives, I gave up. Forcing reader, which is a very specific sort of app, into the standard Google format is what killed it for me.

  7. This is just the latest example of how Google cannot be relied up to support the services they launch – the first big one was the decision to close iGoogle – used by millions of people as their home page; now Reader goes. I’ve switched from everything Google to apps that do just as good a job, but aren’t tainted by the Google connection. Get with it folks – not only can Google not be trusted to “do no harm”, it can’t be trusted – full stop.

  8. Why do this? I really don’t think Google thought this one through. Do they understand the type of person who would use Google Reader? Not everyone wants to get their “news” from social sources; Many people – like myself – have curated their feeds/lists in GReader for a number of years so that they can get access to the news they want, quickly. It was simple, clean and did the job without all the bells and whistles.

    Twitter and Facebook etc just wont cut it. Seriously, Google … this has got to be one of the strangest moves of recent times. GReader was a niche product, a strong niche imho, and by closing it down it will cause a lot of mayhem for many.

    I hope Google rethinks.