Thursday, March 14, 2013

Google Reader Shutting Down in July

Google Reader, probably the most used RSS reader on the planet is shutting down July 1, 2013. The reason Google given for this shutting it down is that the number of users has declined (you can see the official announcement on the Google Blog at http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-second-spring-of-cleaning.html). Immediately, folks expressed outrage on the social media. On both Twitter and Google Plus Google Reader was trending at number one. For something that its usage had declined there was an awful lot of outrage. The tweets on Twitter were almost universally against Google. One by Jim Aley, a Twitter user, was typical: "Goggle is murdering Google Reader. It is committing appicide. Hate crime. NO GR, NO PEACE." A petition on Change.org as of this writing has over 56,000 signatures. You can sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/petitions/google-keep-google-reader-running

 Google Reader was started in 2005, and has remained popular with those wanting to keep up with blogs and news. Many in media rely on Google Reader for getting information for the news stories and blog posts they write, being able to keep track of a large number of blogs and other news outlets at a time. The reader is simple. It displays the headlines of the news articles and blog posts, and if one wants to read an article or blog post they simply click on the headline and the story or post is displayed in the reader. For many it makes their workday easier in that they do not have to search the web for information or scan website after website for news stories or blog posts. For the casual user it was a way to get news or read about things that interest them without having to go to dozens of websites.

 Many Android apps use Google Reader as well. FeeDemon, NewsRob, Reeder, Pulp, FeedMe, gReader, and several others rely on Google Reader for their feeds. Those using tablets or smartphones may be hard pressed to find other apps that will allow them to read RSS feeds. Once Google Reader is shut down these apps may well cease to work if they do not switch to another service. As for apps for other sites, in a search for apps for the reader folks are most likely to turn to, Feedly, I could only find one app. This compared to half a dozen Android apps for Google Reader. Folks will lose a great deal of choices into what app to use for RSS feeds.

 I have not used Google Reader myself in years. I am part of the reason for the declining number of users. I simply found I no longer had time to read news feeds what with my work schedule. I went through a period that all I would do is work and sleep. But I know many friends and families that do use it, and I know of many professionals that use it daily in their work. Shutting down Google Reader could have a serious impact on those that use the world wide web. Many will have to go looking for other services. Some will not find services to their liking and simply stop subscribing to RSS feeds all together. Something like this happened for me when DejaNews was purchased by Google. I had been using DejaNews to read my newsgroups for a few years. Google then bought it and made it a part of Google Groups. I did not like the interface. I found it difficult to read, and therefore just stopped reading newsgroups all together. Something similar could happen with RSS feeds. Folks may not like the alternatives to Google Reader to read online, or find apps they like that use these alternatives. While it is doubtful they may stop using RSS readers all together, they may find that they are reading RSS feeds less and less. Maybe Google will rethink their closure of Google Reader. The outrage after all was widespread. One of the reasons given for shutting down it and other service was so Google could focus. One blog poster argued they could get rid of many other things that do not serve the average person and cost more money to develop like Google Glass or the self driven car. I would tend to agree.