Who knew that Google shutting down its Reader service would cause such backlash and widespread media attention? Even Reuters is picking up the headline.
Google launched Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite Web sites. Although there are clearly some hard-core Reader users out there, the usage is declining.
"While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader," Urs Holzle, senior vice president of Technical Infrastructure and Google Fellow, wrote in a blog post. "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."
RSS Never Mainstream
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said that despite some hard-core Google Reader users, RSS readers never caught on with mainstream users.
"Google said that usage of Google Reader had continued to decline and wants to deploy the people to other projects," Sterling said. "It illustrates also that Internet companies are often 'fickle' about their products. People who come to rely on particular online tools can't expect that they'll be supported indefinitely."
Reader is not the only victim of Google's winnowing fork. Holzle went on to announce that Google is closing 70 features or services as part of its annual spring-cleaning event. Google began the practice in 2011 and it draws the ire of users every year. He explained the closures, which we'll list later in this article, are due to the new environment we're living in.
"We're living in a new kind of computing environment. Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple 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," Holzle said. "To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus -- otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact."
Did Your Fave Make the Cut?
Here is a short list of other apps that are closing down that you may know and love:
Apps Script will be deprecating the GUI Builder and five UiApp widgets in order to focus efforts on HTML Service. The rest of the Ui Service will not be affected. The GUI Builder will continue to be available until Sept. 16. CalDAV API will become available for white-listed developers, and will be shut down for other developers on Sept. 16.
Google Building Maker helped people to make three-dimensional building models for Google Earth and Maps. It will be retired on June 1, but users are still able to access and export their models from the 3D Warehouse.
Google Cloud Connect is a plug-in to help people work in the cloud by automatically saving Microsoft Office files from Windows PCs in Google Drive. But Google said installing Google Drive on your desktop achieves the same thing more effectively. Existing users will no longer be able to use Cloud Connect as of April 30.
Beginning next week, Google is ending support for the Google Voice App for BlackBerry. For BlackBerry users who want to continue using Google Voice, it is recommend they use Google's HTML5 app.
Google is deprecating its Search API for Shopping, which has enabled developers to create shopping apps based on Google's Product Search data. Google will shut the API down completely on Sept. 16. And Google is officially no longer selling or providing updates for Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows.