Google Reader Will Shut Down: Here's Why

By Matthew Klickstein , Mar 14, 2013 10:28 AM EDT

UPDATE: There's already a petition to keep Google Reader alive going with 45,000 signatures and counting. Find out more here

Google has officially announced it will shut down its Google Reader service, effective July 1, 2013.

Google Reader, created and launched in 2005, aggregates news through Web feeds and grew popular thanks to support by a panoply of apps for which it serves as an information platform.

"We launched Google Reader ... in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites," Google posted in its "Spring Cleaning" blog on Wednesday, March 13.

Noting that despite Google Reader's "loyal following ... usage has declined," Google continues that "[u]sers and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months."

The Google Reader blog itself posted a similar announcement with more of a personal touch on Wednesday, March 13.

"We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go," the blog says. "We're sad too.

The posting goes on to state that the two reasons the Google Reader is being killed in July are:

1)      Aforementioned decline in Google Reader usage

2)      "[A]s a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products"

Although it may be a little hard to believe the second reason ( with Google releasing and announcing a new product/service every other week these days), the fact seems clear that Google Reader — "loyal" followers or not — just isn't boasting the numbers it once had, if ever.

"Overall, I was pretty amazed to read this," Marketing Land's analyst writes. "While much news reading behavior has moved to social networks these days, I know plenty of dedicated Google Reader users. It was also pretty much the last of the major news reading services standing."

"[N]ews that [Google] is shutting down Google Reader took many, many people by surprise," Techdirt says.

"My Twitter feed blew up with people freaking out about it. For those who use it, many really rely on it for their daily information gathering process. I know the feeling, because I used to do that — though a few years ago I shifted to mostly using Twitter via a well-organized Tweetdeck, and found that to be just as (if not more) effective, though a somewhat different overall experience that took some getting used to."

Techdirt goes on to highlight what the move to close Google Reader portends.

"I'm now planning to do a more serious personal audit of services I use and how reliant I am on a single provider, and start making sure I have working alternatives in place and ready to go," Techdirt says. "In the end, this will certainly make me a lot less tied to Google's services, which is probably a good thing, but probably not the sort of thing Google is hoping its users will be doing."

Another issue may be Google Reader's growing competition with Twitter, suggests Techdirt. This is especially true in the analyst's view, considering his own switching over to Tweetdeck which he believes is indicative of what others have been doing of late, as well.

Techdirt even created an RSS feeder itself at one point, as the analyst describes, going into the fact there's even more room for a Google Reader competitor than just Twitter these days. The site itself stopped its own reader "because (as Google has discovered), it's actually a lot of work to maintain something like that for a variety of reasons, and soaks up tremendous resources."

The latter part of this statement reminds us of the "second" reason Google says its Reader will be shut down. Maybe there's a point there, after all.

What do you think? Are you as upset as these folks that Google Reader is going away, or is it time to truly do away with it along with the rest of our Spring Cleaning? Let us know in the comments below.

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