With a popup and a smile, Google has announced that it’s extinguishing Google Reader–arguably the world’s most popular RSS feed reader in existence–on July 1st, 2013.
After seven years of operation, the search giant is closing the service citing the decline of RSS in the face of Twitter and other sites delivering news bites. The shuttering comes along with a “spring cleaning” initiative that will see several other services also go away.
The origination of Google Reader came from an offshoot of the Blogger service, which could emit RSS feeds, and led to the engineering marvel of using XML feeds to display terse snips or summaries of posts from blogs. That grew into a project that because a formal part of Google Laps in 2005; eventually outgrew Labs in 2007 to become its very own service in 2007.
Since then there’s been a lot of back and forth over the use of Google Reader alongside such odd products such as Google Wave (now defunct) as well as Google+. All the while, the search giant seemed to chafe at the underlying lack of social elements to Reader–for the most part it was a service that collated RSS feeds to a single reader and didn’t do much to let them share and exchange items. That was fixed by the addition of being able to add friends, share items, and invite others to see the same feeds. Much of this functionality, however, was gutted in favor of share buttons that used G+.
And now, the service itself will be buried under the sands of time.
News aficionados and feed followers will suffer the heaviest blow
Google may be seeing a decline in the use of their RSS feed reading service, but there’s still numerous people who like and make use of it. Much of the staff of SiliconANGLE use it to keep track of news sources and other Internet spaces that emit RSS feeds (almost every news site, WordPress blog, Reddit, and even Twitter has one.)
As a journalist I use Google Reader on a daily basis to keep up with the tech industry and just keep in the flow of what’s going on. In a way, it provides me with the mood of the day and sometimes a good idea of what my colleagues are up to.
“This is perhaps the most idiotic move in Google’s history,” says Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins, SiliconANGLE’s robot overlord and editor-in-chief. “When Google scaled back Reader last time, there were literal pickets in front of the Google offices.”
Already a petition has appeared on Change.org asking Google not to shutter the service–with in excess of 7,000 signatures so far. That’s just in the past four hours.
Accepting the inevitable
While we might be going through the stages of grief here at SiliconANGLE we’re not going to give up a good tool. Even if that means moving to a competitor immediately who do the same thing.
If you don’t want to give up the sleek lines, simple interface, and comforts of Google Reader, Feedly is planning to launch a clone of the service. They are right now asking Reader users to try out their service before July 1st so that their preferences and feeds can be imported. If you’re interested in further alternatives, SiliconANGLE editor Kristen Nicole has you covered with six.
While this won’t bring relief to the essential disintegration of the community connected to the service–numerous people who have connected together colleagues, friends, and other newsies–it will at least provide a shadow of the service watching its own looming demise.
Farewell Google Reader, we barely knew thee.