As part of its ongoing culling efforts and its crusade to focus on some popular products, Google has shut down more than 70 services, goods and features since September 2011. On the 12th March, 2013 – Google announced its plans to close down eight of its services, stop supporting or limit the following eight services: Google Building Maker, CalDAV API, GUI Builder, Google Voice Application for BlackBerry, Search Application Programming Interface (API) for Shopping, Google Cloud Connect, Snapseed Desktop for Windows and Macintosh and Google Reader.
While the shutting down of most services has not affected the users, it is the plan to shutdown the Google Reader that has taken most internet users and software developers by surprise. The Google Reader is a very popular content application program that allows the users to subscribe to and get updated contents from various favorite internet sites, blogs, publishers, etc. in an easily readable Really Simple Syndication (RSS) design.
The Reader was introduced by Google, through Google Labs, on October 7th 2005, when RSS feeds was a comparatively new technology, to keep a tab on the users’ favorite web sites and blog sites. Over the years the popularity of the Google Reader grew and it started supporting numerous applications which used the Reader as a platform to serve news and information to its users. The Google Reader service essentially keeps bloggers updated with all the latest technology world news on an every day basis.
Nonetheless, eight years after the launch of Google Reader, Google announced that it plans to retire the Google Reader on the 1st July 2013.
The reason for this was given by Google as the following:
- According to the search engine, though the service has a dedicated following, the popularity of the product has reduced with the years. Developers and users who are interested in another RSS can transport their data as well as their subscriptions, by means of Google Takeout in the consequent four months. Google Takeout will allow the internet users take their data out from the various Google products and bring them together in transportable and open layout, making exporting to other services an easy way.
- The other reason for shutting down Google Reader is that the search engine is also planning to focus all their energy into lesser number of products.
Though the Google Reader was ahead of its time when it was launched in 2005, the rise in the popularity of the social media networks and the simultaneous decline in the popularity of RSS feeds has made Google wind up the Google Reader. And with the shutting down of the Google Reader, Google is planning to bring more people to its social media networking service, Google+.
Google wants people to experience their favorite web sites in a more social way and hence was looking to transfer its combined platforms to its social media network service and they feel that that kind of focus will make for an improved user experience.
However, this announcement has angered numerous fans of the Google Reader service who are urging the company to save it rather than ‘retire’ it. According to a Google user, people are interested in the Reader as it is a user controlled content in a world where everything is controlled by a set of instructions.
Though Google’s decision to shut down the Google Reader implies that the company did not see a feasible income stream in its RSS feed service, it does not mean that RSS is a condemned technology. According to developer Marco Arment, even though Google, does not feel it is advisable to maintain the Reader, the empty space that it will leave behind might encourage others companies to create business focused only on a Reader replacement and it will also bring the much desired improvement back to the development of the RSS application.