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Why Google Reader Had To Die

Why Google Reader Had To Die

Seriously? Do you really love Google Reader and were you really still using it? I think the signs are obvious and the reality of the situation to me, leads me to say, “Duhhh.” But that would just be childish of me and some of you that are reading this are upset and feel that you’ve lost an awesome tool to read and organize your news.

The first and biggest issue at hand to me is the fascination with RSS. You realize RSS usage has been dying a slow death since it’s inception, right? Well, if you weren’t aware of the balloon in the corner whining it’s last breath as all the air was let out, his name is RSS. Let’s take a look at this Google Trend of a simple term, “RSS.”

Death of RSS

As you can see above, the sloping mountain that is plummeting towards a big ZERO, is our friend RSS and the Google search interest around that specific keyword. The peak of growth for the specific word RSS was in January 2006. Ever since then, it’s been all down hill for the Interest in RSS.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved RSS and used it religiously. I thought RSS was one of the best organizational methods to get notifications of news, blog posts and popular articles that were trending up. Google Reader served it’s purpose and almost served it’s last breath serving up the “typical RSS” reader users content for the day. Where did all those people go though?

RSS was transferred over into a more consumer-friendly application that every day people knew how to use, abuse and consume. Those apps are called Pulse, FlipBoard and Google Currents. Wait a second, “Google” currents, you got that right, they’re not out of the game. The interest and focus has turned over to the fastest growing niche since the invention of the Internet. Mobile. Mobile growth in smartphones and tablets has seen a phenomenal adoption that some have been touting for years.

Mobile Growth is the Death of Google Reader

In the above graphic you can clearly see the amazing growth of smartphone sales and tablet sales. Who’s not winning the race anymore? Desktop PCs and all of us awesome people that use Google Reader are on Desktop PCs. I’m not aware of a smartphone Google Reader App, nor am I aware of a tablet Google Reader App that is currently available. As you can see from the Business Insider graphic that has a great article on the future of mobile associated with it, the number of mobile devices will dwarf the number of PCs in a very short time.

So, where will Google engineers be hanging their hats in place of Google Reader in my opinion? Most likely, Google Currents will be getting their love, development time and will also be getting people’s eyeballs.

Google Reader VS Google Currents

As you can see from the Google Trend above, the current has been redirected into another Google product. The red trend line is “Google Currents” and the blue line is “Google Reader” from 2004 to 2013 present worldwide search interest levels according to Google Trends. As one bites the dust, one has been created to take over the interest of users to consume news, new blog posts and articles that are popular. The correlation is uncanny of Google Reader hitting a wall in 2012 and Google Currents being launched and taking away that traffic and interest in the other Google product.

Google Reader Competition

Just to get the final point across, you can see that RSS continued it’s downward slope in interest starting in 2006. In mid-2009 was the start of a new Google Reader competitor that was fed by mobile growth in smartphones and tablets. The above graphic shows when the Pulse App newsreader was launched in mid-2009 with FlipBoard quick to follow, or should we say quick to clone?

Now let’s be fair, everyone brought something different to the table and Google Currents was no different launching in 2012. The mobile adoption is on and RSS usage in it’s “old form” is out and so is Google Reader. To be fair, people will still use the technology of RSS but the technology of it is falling into the background with the simplicity of apps, this is why Google Reader had to die. Let it rest in peace and make the transition like all the other cool people.

Google Reader Shutting Down! How To Export and 7 Alternatives

Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st 2013. Here are 7 alternatives to the RSS reading service.

Hitler finds out Google Reader is shutting down

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22 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I see that this website offers RSS. What are you waiting to remove that ‘obsolete’ service?

  2. Eric says:

    The network of news sites and bloggers work with these non-real people (as you imply them to be) devouring each other’s news and building on them. They also use the social tools that real people use, but only as a complement. Then they share what they consider to be the best news via their websites and social networks and this trickles down to “real” people like you.
    Usually, you don’t get the full perspective of what is happening, but the tip of the iceberg. The most sensational and viral.
    This decision of Google will not kill anything other than the trust in Google (from non-real people, those that must decide whether developing in their appengine or Amazon). RSS will not disappear. However, the disappearance of RSS as you predict would impact the news and blog ecosystem so much that the amount of news trickling down via the social networks and pretty apps like Flipboard would be impacted. Luckily your analytics is flawed and this will not happen.
    Those of us that like to be completely informed will find another news aggregator to connect our current RSS clients to and will browse every news article from our trusted source. I mean everyone, not only those that someone else choose to pass down. In the mean time, “normal people” will be awed by the cool GUI of Flipboard and will learn only what other decide that you should read. No wonder why you are not aware about the many Google Reader clients. You are just another uninformed real person, as you call yourself in an effort to insult us. .

    BTW, as a clarification to those who don’t know, the importance of Google Reader is not the client. I never used their web UI or official client (3rd parties were much better). There importance is in aggregation and sync. You never read and article twice. After you read and article in the phone it is flagged as read in the server. Then when you open your tablet then you continue where you left. Seamlessly. Local amd international newspapers (hint: CNN is biased, sometimes), rare but intelligent blog authors that are never showcased in Pulse or Currents…there is plenty of stuff that I enjoy that my friends don’t. Some people don’t have personal interests and flow with the trends…monkey see, monkey do. Others use RSS.

  3. dd says:

    Joel, never read an article from you before, but after reading this one I doubt I will read another.
    Your overabundant use of the word “trending” as well as your tone both in the article and your replies to comments speaks volumes of the copious amounts of kool-aid you must consume daily.
    Reader is an extremely useful news aggregate for those who actually want to see all of articles from their news feeds and chose from the title/snippets which ones actually interest them, rather than leave it up to an algorithm to supposedly decide which articles will most interest them.
    I view Reader several times every day and with at least 100+ feeds.
    It is an invaluable tool for many, both in itself and for many other apps and blogs that use its API.
    As far as Google resources being better used elsewhere, that is a lame statement at best considering the minuscule amount of resources needed for a project that has not been greatly updated in quite some time and without the need of a lot of development on Google part at this point. Google has its reasons, but a lack of resources is not one of them.
    Bad move on Google’s part, period, and I hope they re-evaluate their decision based on their core loyal users.
    Try taking the arrogance out of your thinking as well as your writing and you might see things differently… but somehow I don’t see either happening.

  4. rose new says:

    The article says ” I’m not aware of a smartphone Google Reader App, nor am I aware of a tablet Google Reader App that is currently available.”
    I have used several smartphone & tablet Google Reader Apps, from independent developers. Today a search of Apple’s store nets dozens of highly rated popular RSS Apps from independent developers.
    All of these utilize Google Reader. e.g. Newsify, Feeddler, Reeder, Mr. Reeder and many more.
    If anyone knows of an RSS App on IOS that uses an alternative to Google Reader: please recommend and let me know
    To cite Pulse or Flipboard or other limited prepackaged news readers as an advancement over RSS Reader subscriptions is just sad. They are “easy” for people to use? They do your selecting and your thinking for you?
    Google Reader, and the tablet apps that run using it, will be a tremendous loss to me, and I am hardpressed trying to think how I can replace all the subscriptions I painstakingly collected over several years.

  5. Doug Alder says:

    This is an unbelievably dumb article. While the search for the term RSS in Google may be going down the actual usage of RSS has been going up – hello smarter more educated users they don’t need to Google the term to know what it is – see http://googlesystem.blogspot.it/2013/03/google-reader-data-points.html – usage just keeps climbing

    • Joel Mackey says:

      Doug you’re unbelievably rude to call the article dumb when you’re too lazy to read it. The article doesn’t throw RSS out and say it’s not being “used” anymore, it says that the usage of RSS has transferred to consumer friendly applications like Pulse, FlipBoard and Google Currents. When people subscribe in these apps it increases the subscriber numbers of a feed. You clearly missed more than half the article that discusses how RSS is packaged now in a friendly form that people like to use. Google Reader was a dying application and the old way of RSS was dying with it. If you’d quit foaming out the mouth and typing first and actually read the article, you would have caught that.

  6. Craig says:

    I’ve never used Google Reader. But by what people are saying and by how passionate people seem to be about the subject. I get the feeling i may have missed out on something. The hitler video is a good example of how much it was loved, so much so someone took the time to make that video. I use http://www.waurb.com for all of my news if anyone is looking for an alternative.

  7. stevensonmt says:

    Your article is rubbish.
    1. There has been an official Google Reader app for phone/tablet for years. It has been pulled from Play because they are killing the service.
    2. Currents is not a replacement as you are limited to their stable of content providers and cannot add random feeds of your own.
    3. Your logic that search term trends have anything to do with viability or importance is inherently flawed. Perhaps people no longer search for RSS because it is taken for granted as a stable, reliable technology that underlies useful services.
    4. Apps like Feedly were actually the competition for Reader. The apps you seem to favor are all part of the attempt to close ecosystems and centralize access, taking power away from the end user. That used to be the purview of Microsoft, but Google is taking over in a big way.

    • Joel Mackey says:

      Steven 1. I have never found an official Google Reader App.
      2. Currents allows you to add any RSS feeds you want, here’s a walkthrough on how to get it done: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57340036-285/add-rss-feeds-from-google-reader-to-google-currents/
      3. No my logic on people not searching for RSS is correct, it has been called a dying technology from the nerdy end for 10 years. The only reason RSS is used is because of apps like Pulse, FlipBoard, Currents, iGoogle, Feedly and more. When it’s a user friendly interface, people use it but most people have no clue what RSS is. RSS is used but only in interfaces that remove the technical side of the process.
      4. While you don’t like the apps I mentioned, they’re actually the ones that real people are using. You can be stuck up and “exclusive” all you want, but I look at stats and where the humans are is using those apps. You are the type that still screams that records produce better sound than CDs, MP3s etc. Yawn.

  8. Joel Mackey says:

    If you go to the Google Play store and search for Google Reader there is no official Google Reader app as it says, “Item not found.” When you click on it. Now all Google Reader search results do is redirect you to results with Google Currents as the #1 listing. I’m not talking about 3rd party Google Reader apps, there is no official Google Reader App available in Google Play. Anyway, I didn’t write the article for people that use Google Reader daily to love me, I was just laying out the facts. Thanks for the comments you guys. I hope you find a good alternative.

  9. Darrell says:

    As the other commenter mentioned if you never knew there was a google reader app then you most certainly never looked for one. Judging by the article you never were a fan of RSS feeds or Google reader. I only started using the service 2 years ago but I’ve subscribed to hundreds of feeds which were useful for keeping up with the news and research for various topics. I partially expected reader to be rolled up into Google Currents when it first came out because I didn’t see a need for two readers. However, after using Currents for a awhile I quickly realized reader was more of a tool then a basic reader like Pulse or Currents.

  10. Petr says:

    Here is a very good Google Reader alternative: Skimr – http://www.skimr.co

    It’s an reader for the rest of us who always thought RSS was a bit geeky.

  11. John Andersson says:

    Are you kidding me? I’ve been using the google reader app on my android since I got my first smart phone three years ago.

    Anyway, my problem, not that anyone cares, is podcasts. I download tons of podcast (I have about 90 of them in my ancient RSS-feed). I download them as mp3’s from my computer to my phone. I don’t stream them ’cause I don’t have regular access to WiFi. That’s why I need something that’s available on both desktop and smartphone. And Google Current is only available on phones / tablets. Another thing I’ll miss with reader is that it is incorporated in the google account. That’s what I like about google, you sign in ONCE and you have your mail, calendar. documents and RSS-feeds right there. Another problem with some alternatives I’ve tried is that it will only let you read a couple of lines and not the whole article. Guess I’ll be searching more sites for tips and will have to get used to being insulted for having used an old dinosaur like reader just because I was stupid enough to think Google Reader was an awsome thing. Let’s all facepalm and “duuuuh”.

  12. Adam says:

    “RSS was transferred over into a more consumer-friendly application that every day people knew how to use, abuse and consume. Those apps are called Pulse, FlipBoard and Google Currents.”

    That’s just ridiculous. The underlying data format and delivery method for a news aggregator has nothing to with its usability.

    • Joel Mackey says:

      I didn’t reference the “underlying data format” but the consumable form of RSS. Reader, nor RSS was adopted by the masses. This is why the above mentioned apps grew so fast.

  13. Wim Lockefeer says:

    Your article is another example of the reasoning flaw that is so predominant these days, namely that something is important if it is talked about. Whatever is “trending” must be valuable, right?

    Just because people don’t search for “rss” does not mean it is not a valid element of the infrastructure that powers people’s daily information needs.

    If I were to follow your reasoning, LDAP would be surely on the way out (http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=ldap&cmpt=q). Or what about exchange (the monetary or Microsoft variant)? Out of the window!

    Google did everything to keep “rss” under the hood – you didn’t need to search for an rss feed to add it to reader; the site’s main url was enough. Don’t blame the “waning interest” in the underlying technology for the decision to cut a valuable service.

    • Joel Mackey says:

      No, my point isn’t that whatever is trending is valuable. My point is, if you were the one spending millions of dollars on a team that was working on a product that was dying in usage you’d be throwing away money. As a smart company, you have to reevaluate and focus your efforts, money and brains on products that are growing and are the future so that you survive and are still relevant with the coming tides of change. Valuable for a company that needs to make money and be paid attention to is often what is being used by consumers and shows growth trends in the hockey stick realm.

  14. Sara says:

    Just because you never looked for nor used the Google reader app for smartphone and tablet doesn’t mean that one did not exist. That you would include this incorrect fact in your article further indicates that your article is not at all directed to those who actually used and loved Google Reader.

  15. Dustin says:

    If you didn’t know there was a Google Reader app, then you didn’t look good enough. Google has a Google Reader app on Android as well as iOS. I use Google Reader every day, all day. Just about every time I unlock my phone, the first app I choose is Google Reader. I subscribe to about 40 RSS feeds, mostly tech blogs, and read through all the titles. I star the ones I want to read. Then later, either read them all on my laptop, through the Google Reader browser on my Google Account or read them on my phone when I get time. While I understand that RSS feeds are dying, I don’t think Google needed to kill it off completely. I, as well as many other RSS users will be using Feedly as they will be continuing on when Google kills off a beloved service.

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