At the start of July, Google Reader (opens in new tab), a product that lets users automatically access and read their favourite RSS feeds, will shut down. This is a grave mistake by Google and it sends the wrong message.
In a blog post entitled "Powering Down Google Reader (opens in new tab)," software engineer Alan Green cites declining usage as a main reason for shuttering the program. This suggests that Google will drop anything with declining usage.
So I guess it is only a matter of time before the company drops Gmail. My advice to Gmail users is to rush over to Outlook.com and get an account now! That is, if the service is actually running today.
Following Google's logic, if its search engine begins to lose market share, it will shut that down too. Obviously the excuse for killing the Reader is bogus. The online community has protested and speculated about the real reason for the closure, but to no avail.
At first, I was prepared to accuse Google of being cheap. How much bottom line revenue does this product cost Google? In fact, it cannot be much. But there has to be more to it than penny-pinching. I think Google is restructuring and has decided that anything in beta for enough years – without contributing to Google's future – has to go.
So to understand the shutdown of Google Reader, we must understand the future of Google. Green gives us a hint when he writes: "As a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products."
We can easily decipher what some of those "fewer projects" are by scrutinising how Google treats its current projects. Except for its haggard Gmail, which is the overwhelming choice of email users, most of the primary Google initiatives seem good for the near future. This includes Google+, Search, Images, Maps, Play, YouTube, News, Drive, and Calendar. These healthy programs live at the top of most Google pages, followed by a “More” drop-down menu. Google Reader is found here, and you could be forgiven for assuming that the other features, such as Translate, Books, and Offers, are scheduled for the scrapheap, too.
But it is at the bottom of this drop-down menu, under “Even More,” that the danger lurks. Clicking it brings up a page (opens in new tab) that has a redundant mix of everything. I have to assume that over the next year, many – if not most – of these products will be killed.
I recommend looking over this page and jumping on any of these products that may be useful. It might be your last chance. Some of the most interesting and useful products on the Internet are on this page. Many of them you've never heard of. Yahoo has the same problem; it too develops cool products and never mentions them to anyone.
The real problems, and Google knows this, are today's Facebook-obsessed dummies. With all the power of the network at their fingertips, people would rather jump into a closed system, as in the days of AOL, and stay there like agoraphobics afraid to leave the house. It's a shame, really.
Adieu, Google Reader, we hardly knew ye.