If you’re a Google Reader user and you launch the RSS reader’s Web page this morning, you’ll get this sad, sad message:
It’s true. As I wrote back in March, Google is shutting down its RSS reader on July 1 – two weeks from now. That’s problematic because Google provides access to its servers to developers, who have built other products around it. The apps that use Google Reader’s API will also quit working on July 1 as a result.
The highest-profile effort has been by the developers of Feedly, who have been working furiously on creating a new back-end syncing system to replace the one being abandoned by Google. Feedly – which has apps for Android, iOS and Web browsers, including Chrome – in April claimed 3 million users.
In its blog post announcing the pending euthanization of Reader, Google said the product simply didn’t have enough users to warrant its continue existence. Exactly how many it had was not known, but we may now have a clue.
In his latest Monday Note blog post, Jean-Louis Gassée writes about being on Google’s campus and attending one of its famous Friday, all-hands meetings (which interestingly, was held on Thursday). At that meeting, an employee asked about Reader:
Unsurprisingly, someone asked Larry Page a question about Google Reader and got the scripted “too few users, only about a million” non-answer, to which Sergey Brin couldn’t help quip that a million is about the number of remote viewers of the Google I/O developer conference Page had just bragged about. Perhaps the decision to axe Reader wasn’t entirely unanimous. And never mind the fact Feedly seems to already have 3 million subscribers…
Google Reader “only” had a million users? That is a relatively low number, but I wonder if it includes third-party apps that use Reader’s syncing service. Of course, those don’t display Google’s ads, so they may not matter much.
In my March entry, I mentioned that I use Feedler as my daily RSS reader. It relies on Google Reader, and its developer has been working on a post-July 1 version. But in this blog post, it becomes clear that this is not a simple process. He’ll first support one service, then Feedly, then provide a free app that uses its own syncing service. Other developers likely face similar, complex options.
If you’re a Google Reader user, time to make some decisions of your own. Start by downloading copies of your feeds from Google Takeout. If you use a third-party app that talks to Google Reader, check to see if an update is in the works, or has already been released. And if you’re still looking for a replacement, see the alternatives suggested by CNet and Lifehacker.