Google is shutting down its popular RSS Reader as part of a broader “spring cleaning” to concentrate on a smaller selection of services.
In a post on the official blog for Google Reader, software engineer Alan Green cites declining usage and a reshaped focus on fewer products. “We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience,” he says.
Google Reader will shut down July 1, so users have enough time to transition to a new option. Launched in 2005, the RSS Reader allowed users to pull content feeds from a variety of websites into one personal hub.
The move to shut down Reader is part of a larger plan detailed on the company’s official blog. Among other services getting shuttered: Google Building Maker, Google Cloud Connect and the voice app for BlackBerry 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,” says Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. “To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact.”
The move by Google has sparked shock and frustration among Reader users across the Web. “Google Reader” is one of the most popular trends on Twitter, while a petition started on Change.org to keep Google Reader alive has garnered more than 52,000 supporters.
The decision has also generated debate on whether Google Reader’s demise marks a death blow to RSS aggregation. Some RSS Readers that depend on Google’s backend technology such as FeedDemon are shutting down, or finding different ways to fuel their service, such as popular alternative Feedly.
Other aggregation services have used Reader’s demise as an opportunity to recruit more users. “We’ve got your RSS covered,” reads an excerpt of a tweet from mobile service Flipboard.
Web users are also finding other ways to consume content without RSS thanks to the rise of social networks. Many websites have Facebook and Twitter accounts users can follow to have headlines delivered quickly.
Green stressed users won’t be the only ones who will miss Google Reader. “We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go,’ he says. “We’re sad too.”