There has been a lot said about the death of RSS – many no longer view the popular website subscription system as modern, useful, and applicable for today’s content consumer. I personally find such arguments shortsided, obnoxious, and representing the views of a minority of content consumers. Today, Twitter exploded with the comments of people who disagree – people who still use RSS, and find it very much applicable to the way they consume content.
And what was the reason for this outburst of anger and disappointment? Sadly, the death of Google Reader, Google’s free RSS subscription service, was to blame. In an unexpected “spring cleaning” post published on the official Google blog, the company announced that they will be shutting down Google Reader, along with a number of other products (including Snapseed for Mac and PC) on July 1 of 2013.
From the Google Blog:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
Google Reader is the most popular free service by far for storing, syncing, and reading RSS feeds – and it’s about to take a short ride straight into the heart of the sun. As Jim Dalrymple of The Loop put it, “One of Google’s most useful products. Gone.” Yup. Gone. Dead. Buried in the rain.
It’s unclear what Google’s intentions are. Google Reader takes practically zero resources for Google to run, leaving a wave of confusion as its users try to figure out just what Google has to gain by shutting it down. Perhaps they may attempt to integrate its features into Google+ in yet another attempt to drive users towards their lackluster social network, which, despite their efforts, has utterly failed to take off like Twitter or Facebook.
At this point, all we have is speculation – the truth, as usual, remains elusive. For the time being, all we know is this: First, Google Reader was the top service in its category. Second, come July 1st, Google Reader as we know it will be dead as a doornail. Hopefully this will spawn the creation of companies and services to fill the void left by Google Reader with something even better. One can only hope.
RIP, Google Reader. You will be missed – but with any luck (and the power of innovation), you’ll be forgotten quickly, and replaced with far better and more useful services.