For well over a decade, Rich Site Summary (RSS) has been one of the easiest ways to keep track of your favorite websites. The most popular RSS service – by a longshot – has been Google Reader. But as people turn more to social networks and content-curating apps like Flipboard for news, RSS has become an endangered species. On July 1, Google will accelerate its extinction by putting the nail in Reader’s coffin.
On the company’s blog, SVP Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle framed the cut as part of Google’s “spring cleaning.” He attributed the cut to an (unsurprising) drop in users:
- "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."
Along with Google Reader, the search giant is also axing Google Voice apps for BlackBerry (ouch), the Google Cloud Connect plugin, and several APIs. It’s also ceasing future updates for the Windows and Mac versions of Snapseed.
A leaner Google
This continues CEO Larry Page's trend of focusing Google’s efforts. During Eric Schmidt’s reign, the company was known for experimenting with anything and everything – but Page has taken the hatchet to many of these niche projects. Many have cult followings – Reader in particular – but aren’t growing or making the company money. So away they go.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the author mentioned a meeting between Page and Apple’s late CEO, where Jobs advised Page to narrow its focus, and put its energy into a smaller array of products (hardly surprising considering Jobs' penchant for simplicity). Whether it’s because of Jobs’ advice or not, Page is doing just that.
This is the search giant's second big announcement of the day, following news that Sundar Pichai is replacing Andy Rubin as head of Android.