Google announced that Google Reader will be discontinued on July 1st. It’s a sad news, but it was inevitable. Google Reader has always been “on the chopping block” because it never got enough traction.
Everything started with a feed parser built by Chris Wetherell that turned into a feed reader, helped by Ben Darnell, Laurence Gonsalves, and Mihai Parparita. The product was launched in 2005 as a Google Labs project and it was significantly improved one year later, when the Google Reader team launched a completely new version. Over the years, Google Reader integrated with iGoogle, added social features and handled feed serving for all Google products. Back in 2007, Google Reader crawled 8 million feeds and 70% of the traffic was from Firefox users.
In 2011, Google removed Reader’s social features and replaced them with a Google +1 button. It was the beginning of the end for Reader, who lost all the engineers from the original team. Google Reader is in maintenance mode ever since then.
While feeds are no longer important for many users and browsers start to drop support for reading feeds, social networks make newsfeeds popular and mobile apps like Flipboard simplify reading the news. Feeds are now a behind-the-scenes technology and full-fledged feed readers seem outdated.
“We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too. There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience,” says Google’s Alan Green.
It’s hard to find a replacement for Google Reader, since Google Reader was the most popular feed reader and the competition couldn’t keep up with it. You can still find some web-based feed readers, but none of them is as good as Google Reader. Congratulations to everyone who worked on the Reader team and thanks to all the people who subscribed to this blog in Google Reader.
Here’s Google Reader’s team from 2007: