Google’s doing some spring cleaning, again. The company, as it has in years past, is killing some of its services, most notably its RSS Web application Google Reader.
The service, for those who never used it, allows you to view all your RSS feeds – headlines and articles from news organizations – in one central spot. Come July 1, though, you won’t be able to read anything using the application; you won’t be able to use it at all.
While the 7-year-old service is one of the most popular RSS services on the Web, Google says the number of users has declined. It also says it would prefer to focus on fewer products.
“We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience,” Google’s Alan Green wrote on Google’s blog late Wednesday night.
When reached by ABC News, Google would not divulge the number of Google Reader users, but it does acknowledge on its blog that its users are “devoted.”
And those devoted users took to social media in the wake of the news to share their discontent with the decision.
“Two weeks of no pope: baby cured of HIV, breath test for cancer, salt water found on moon of Jupiter. Day one with pope: Google Reader dies,” @sup3rmark tweeted, generating more than 3,000 retweets.
A number of noted journalists also tweeted about their disappointment. “Always read about pulled plugs on product and say, no biggie. But #GoogleReader? They are shutting down my jam,” David Carr of the New York Times shared.
“Google Reader” trended on both Twitter and Google Wednesday night. Others took to signing a Change.org petition, which has more than 12,000 signatures.
Still, while there are those impassioned fans, many never used RSS and now get their news through social media service like Twitter or Facebook. “RSS never caught on as mainstream consumer experience but Google reader provided a powerful resource as a back-end aggregator that could sync content across applications and platforms,” Michael Gartenberg, Gartner research director, told ABC News.
Gartenberg does wonder, though, why Google didn’t monetize the service better to keep it around. “While it’s clear that it’s not part of Google’s strategy, one wonders why it isn’t and why Google didn’t put more effort in monetizing the service as opposed to the technology.”
The Next Web has reported that Google decided to pull the plug on Reader and devote those resources to Google+, the company’s social network.
Google has killed similar products in the past, including Google Buzz and Google Wave. Luckily, there are RSS alternatives to Reader, including Netvibes, Reeder and Newsblur.
Lifehacker.com has a good list and set of directions on how to export and import your feeds.