Those logging onto Google Reader today will notice a message from Google, warning users that the entire RSS service will be shut down mere months from now, on July 1. This is apparently part of the company’s spring cleaning, and Google is citing a decrease in number of users as the reason for this decision. The service will be available until July 1, which Google hopes will give users enough time to find an alternative. There’s also a Google Takeout service available to help you export anything you want to keep before the service goes away.
As a very heavy user of Google Reader, I have to say I’m in shock by this. Of all the services Google could shut down, I really didn’t expect Reader to ever become part of it. Especially not since Google more or less has a monopoly on RSS with Reader, and I frankly don’t have a single clue where to go for an alternative. In fact, I have apps on my devices that are designed to exclusively work with Google Reader, so this piece of news is sure to hit home hard in many homes today.
I do have to wonder if Google is really telling the truth about why it’s shutting down the service. Google makes money from ads, and one of the casualties of RSS is that ads get filtered out. Since Google is also going after ad blockers in Google Play as of today, it’s very tempting to make the connection between the two and conclude that Google is introducing a new aggressive policy to raise its own advertising revenues. If that’s the case, Google is crossing yet another line and putting its own interest ahead of its users, which is something that might be good for the wallet, but not brand loyalty. That’s not surprising, but it remains to see how it will pay off in the long run.
Either way, I think there’s more to this than meets the eye. Google Reader is still immensely popular, so I simply refuse to believe that it’s simply being removed under the same logic as the rest of the items on the spring cleaning list. Personally, I will remember this as the point where I actively started looking at alternatives for Google altogether.
Enough is enough.