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Google Reader is dead (google.com)
388 points by voidfiles 1546 days ago | hide | past | web | 211 comments | favorite



Google Reader kept the content of RSS feeds cached forever, meaning it was the last surviving record of a huge number of dead and deleted blogs. The Archive Team have spent the last month or so fetching those blogs out of Reader to serve as a permanent archive. They posted a few days ago on HN asking for some last minute help, and managed to archive 46.23M feeds.

Check out their efforts here: http://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Google_Reader


My former startup Twingly http://twingly.com has hundreds of millions of blog posts stored (everything collected since 2006) in 128 MySql shards with a unified query interface. The last few months of data are indexed and searchable for free from their website, but the entire archive is kept forever.


That's great.

However, ArchiveTeam has uploaded all data that they've found (at least 46.23M feeds) to the Internet Archive. That means it's public for everyone to mine through and/or use.

I'm not trying to belittle Twingly here - but their "last few months of data" are maybe not really comparable to completely free and public data - kept forever.


Would you donate your data to the Internet Archive?


Perhaps there could be some continuous rollover with all data older than five years being made available through the Internet Archive. I'm no longer affiliated with Twingly but of course know them very well. I can make a proposal! It would be a great idea and I guess for Twingly it could mean increased brand recognition.


Or Common Crawl so other people could actually download and use it?


I didn't realise you couldn't download and use the data from Internet Archive. If not, that's pretty silly to back up the feeds to them, and I'm a bit annoyed to have contributed. I'd like to make them available to everyone to download, analyse, plug into their reader etc etc etc...



You can from the Internet Archive. The GGP is talking about Twingly, and the discussion is about integrating their data with the Archive Team.


For anything substantial (like say, their actual crawl), they'll only do it on a case by case basis with a rather restrictive license and you have to drive up there and plop down the machines to copy it onto.


"... we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience."

Yeah, Reader held back the development of the robot car, glasses, floating balloon internet and the brazilian social site...


I'm pretty sick of this argument. Google is a company, they are not compelled to continue to support a product which is (presumably) not making money, or even if the resources they devote to it could be making more money elsewhere.

Honestly I think Google went above and beyond by giving advance notice, having an API which allows feed exporting and allowing subscriptions to continue to be exported after they close it down for those who ignored the advance notice as well as linking to alternative products.

Sure it sucks for those who used it, but can you imagine a company like Apple or Facebook doing all that for a product they're killing?


You're attacking a straw man here.

To attack Google for shutting down Reader in general is, I agree, silly. They don't owe us anything, and they managed the shutdown fairly gracefully.

But that's not what was going on in the comment you replied to. He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense. Google says they're shutting down Reader to put more focus on a smaller number of products, but they're just as scattered as ever. Pointing out that their words don't match their actions here is a perfectly reasonable thing to do here.


A lot of Googlers asked for reader to be saved as it was considered a very useful tool used by small amount of very devout users. The Google of today will cancel any product that cannot be monetized properly, ignoring all internal feedback.

Another example of how things have changed is the Hangouts app. Pretty much everyone who tested it internally asked for the status settings to be implemented before going public. It was ignored and that was the most criticized aspect of the app when it was publicly released.

The consequence of this is an eroded trust in the company and a reduced brand loyalty. I will think twice before using another Google product that might disappear in favor of some half-assed feature in G+, just because management has decided to bet the future of the company on social.


> He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense. Google says they're shutting down Reader to put more focus on a smaller number of products, but they're just as scattered as ever

You can't criticize Google for shutting down Reader and then accuse them of being scattered in the same sentence. By shutting down Reader, they are limiting their scattering, and Reader is not the only product they are shutting down.

> Pointing out that their words don't match their actions here is a perfectly reasonable thing to do here.

Very true, that's why I'm pointing out that your words are inconsistent :)


Huh? Of course I can accuse them of being scattered when they shut down Reader, if they still have a ton of other projects without any particular coherent goal, which is absolutely the case.

They want to shut it down, fine, I don't really care. But the result is not "focus".


Regardless of how many products they have, they still have one less after shutting down Reader. I'd say the argument still stands.


>Regardless of how many products they have, they still have one less after shutting down Reader. I'd say the argument still stands.

Not if, in the same period they "closed the Reader to in order to focus", they started more than one products, all around the map.

If I tell you:

"I stopped going to the gym in order to focus on my painting more. Oh, and I also started bowling, belly-dancing, snooker, and etching classes -- and I'm leaving next week for snorkeling in Thailand"

then I'd argue that me stopping 1 thing does not not in the least mean I'm more focused now.


That is fallacious. You're assuming they weren't going to start those other products anyway.


Google said "fewer products". Doesn't matter whether or not they were going to start those products anyway, what they're saying is incorrect.


Nothing fallacious about it.

The argument is they did it to "focus better".

You can not do something with the pretext of better focus and then do several other things that break that focus -- whether you were planning to do them anyway is irrelevant.

To put it in some (arbitrary but isomorphic to the argument) numbers, increasing your focus by 5 points and decreasing it by 20 still leaves you with a decrease of 15. Yes, it's better than decreasing it by 25, but that's not the point -- it's a minor pedantic correction. A decrease of 15 is hardly "focusing".


Only if your measurement is the number of products. If you were to represent each product as a point in a multidimensional space of features, and measure according to how well they were clustered, then the existence of Reader would improve the clustering of Google's products, helping to counter the existence of products like self-driving cars.


>You can't criticize Google for shutting down Reader and then accuse them of being scattered in the same sentence. By shutting down Reader, they are limiting their scattering, and Reader is not the only product they are shutting down.

No, you very much can.

Since, you know, they are shutting down a product in their main area of expertise, only to pursue BS non-products all around the map.


It seems that you and the Googlers have different ideas of what Google's main area of expertise is. It seems like you think it's "the web" — thus search, RSS, and I don't know what else you'd include — and they think it's "hacking", i.e. making things that were not previously known to be possible, e.g. a web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites, an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system, a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser, gigabit fiber to the home, robot cars, a free-software smartphone, groupware that replaces chat and email, JavaScript that runs fast, balloon internet, scanning the books of the libraries of the world, an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs, mass-market lifelogging, stuff like that.

I mean, they say their objective is "organizing the world's knowledge", but what's hanging up in the GooglePlex is SpaceShipOne, not a card catalog.


>It seems that you and the Googlers have different ideas of what Google's main area of expertise is.

The "Googlers"? Marketing and business persons did this. If you have followed the story, there were posts describing how actual developer googlers used and loved Reader, and even tried to save it.

>It seems like you think it's "the web" — thus search, RSS, and I don't know what else you'd include — and they think it's "hacking", i.e. making things that were not previously known to be possible, e.g. a web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites, an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system, a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser, gigabit fiber to the home, robot cars, a free-software smartphone, groupware that replaces chat and email, JavaScript that runs fast, balloon internet, scanning the books of the libraries of the world, an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs, mass-market lifelogging, stuff like that

Seems like you bought hook line and sinker the BS PR copy they give.

For one, their core business is ads. Not search itself, not Android (a loss leader) and surely not flying robot cars.

Second, nothing "hackish" or "impossible" about most of which you describe.

Only the "web search engine that automatically finds the useful sites" fits the profile --and that's based on that Stanford research the founders did, not Google work. If anything, it deteriorated over time, with BS non results and meddling with it to promote ads and/or G+.

And even that was hardly impossible. The Chinese search engine Baidu is based on similar tech, which was also created in the US, independently of Google, around the same time (even actually predating PageRank (it's even mentioned in Google's US patents).

An "an email system with a hundred times as much storage as any other webmail system" was just a matter of resources and monetizing, not some special technology.

A "a draggable and zoomable world map in a browser" was bought from another company.

"gigabit fiber to the home" is offered in many parts of the world. That the US lacks in this area, is not something

"a free-software smartphone" -- what's innovative about it? They make money from ads. They give the software for free (especially since it was based on Linux and a modified Java SDK). And it's not like they made a killing off of it -- Samsung did.

"JavaScript that runs fast" -- Safari did that first (they released it to the public at the same time --Sep 2008--, but Safari as a stable version, Google as a beta of Chrome).

"an easy-to-use system for writing fault-tolerant massively-parallel programs" What's that? Go? Because you make it sound like the created Erlang.

Etc. The rest are "robot cars" and "google glass" -- mainly half-baked prototypes, that tons of other companies would have put out if they a) have the money, b) liked to show half-baked stuff years ahead of any release date.

And "baloon internet". A PR stunt if I ever saw one.


Your disrespectful and patronizing tone is disappointing, but it would be more understandable if it were founded in a deep understanding. Many things whose possibility is now obvious were not obvious at the time; many things that are now being tried will fail.

To pick apart your post:

* "main area of expertise" is not the same thing as "main source of income".

* RankDex or for that matter HITS, is not the same thing as a search engine that you would actually use in preference to AltaVista; 1998 Google was already better than AV for the things that were in its index. Baidu didn't exist as a company until 2000.

* "just a matter of resources and monetizing" is hindsight bias. Hotmail was so sure Gmail was an April Fool's joke that they issued a response press release in which they offered more space than Gmail. The fact that Gmail was capable of offering two orders of magnitude more machine resources was, in large part, a result of internal infrastructural innovations at Google that weren't copied at other companies for many years. Of course, some people dismissed it as a "PR stunt".

* Where2 had a downloadable C++ desktop maps application and an idea about doing it browser-side when Google bought them. Gmail and Google Maps popularized AJAX, which had been previously considered impractical, despite our efforts at KnowNow.

* By "many parts of the world" do you mean a few apartment blocks in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo? I don't really think Kansas City is comparable in either density or wealth.

* I don't care what's innovative about Android (which, you forgot to mention, started as a separate company, like Where2). I care that I don't have to sign my first-born child away to Apple to program my smartphone. I'd care a lot more if Google had actually achieved what they set out to achieve with Android.

* If you're equating SquirrelFish (pre-Extreme) to the first release of V8, you're living in a fantasy world. There was an order of magnitude difference. Apple and Mozilla closed the gap substantially in the next few months because (a) V8 showed it was possible; (b) V8 showed how it was possible; and (c) V8 made it necessary.

* I meant MapReduce, which is another of those things that's obvious in hindsight, but was actually far from obvious, and which underpins nearly every data-heavy startup today.

* "Would have put out if" is Monday-morning quarterbacking, just like your hindsight bias on the other items. And there are plenty of companies with more money than Google that don't have robot cars on the road.

We'll see what happens with the robot cars and balloon internet. I think there's a substantial chance they'll fall far short of hopes, just like Wave (which I notice you didn't mention), but that's the way it is when you try things that may not be possible.

I'm not actually all that positive about Google, but I think that if you want to understand them, you need to understand what they value. You can do that without thinking, yourself, that it's awesome.


I don't think Google want to remain "experts" in the complex field of RSS aggregation anymore. It was probably a fun side project for a group of engineers, was written, then got sidetracked, then became not interesting to work on anymore, then was shutdown to focus on other more interesting tasks. Just like what their statement above says...


I think you're missing the point. Check out Google's mission statement:

> Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful

How is Google Reader less fitting than, say, self-driving cars or balloon Internet? An RSS reader is quite literally a way to organize the world's information, perhaps the most relevant of the product offerings.

It's not about what is "more interesting", but "more relevant". They're closing down relevant products for interesting ones, which is not good...


> How is Google Reader less fitting than, say, self-driving cars or balloon Internet? An RSS reader is quite literally a way to organize the world's information, perhaps the most relevant of the product offerings.

Balloon internet is pretty high on the "universally accessible" front, I'd say. With regard to Reader, Google has a different way of organizing and providing access to RSS, atom, and similar information, PubSubHubbub (PuSH) -- both the protocol and Google's own PuSH hub -- which they are continuing to support and move forward with.

While this is infrastructure rather than end-user technology, it, at least arguably, has potentially much greater impact in terms of organizing information and making it accessible, and is much more the kind of thing Google is especially well-positioned to do, whereas end-user UI consuming feeds isn't something that really needs Google to do it.


Would Google be more, or less, scattered if it shut down search and Gmail?

Anyway, I thought this was some discussion about how Google may or may not be making a decision that will later in hindsight turn out to been bad for Google, followed by a tangent about whether anyone is allowed to make qualitative statements about any decision made by Google.

The tangent seemed sufficiently uninteresting before it descended further into an argument of semantics.


Google Reader did nothing to contribute to "scatter" since it was closely related to gmail in function and interface.


Except what if Google wanted to kill RSS from the beginning? Feeds are the best way to bypass all "gatekeepers" and now they have questionable future because Google's "free" offering made competition pointless. The cache of feeds from 2004+ is also gone which is a whole other issue that leaves me very upset because that cannot be replaced with another web app.


> Feeds are the best way to bypass all "gatekeepers"

I'm not sure that's really true. PubSubHubbub -- which started out as a way to actively push updates to Atom/RSS feeds and has been generalized to be a way to do that for any HTTP resource -- seems to provide much of the same capacity, but to do so in a more general and better structured way (it requires the recipient to have the ability to receive as well as initiate HTTP requests, but it would be strange for someone complaining about Reader's demise to see that as a problem; any web-hosted feed reader is going to have to be able to serve HTTP requests anyway.)


> He's pointing out that their stated justification doesn't make a lot of sense.

They've shut down maybe 50 services over the past few years under this justification.


Understanding the position you are explaining doesn't make the shutdown of Google reader any less regrettable or irritating.

It's my impression that it's a little bit cliché and borderline to trolling: every time a "free" product is shutdown and people complain or discuss about it there is a good free-market capitalist soul coming with condescending comments about how people shouldn't expect anything when given something for "free".

We know it. It's still pissing users off. Deal with it.


For the users who valued it, google reader had the ability to keep them hooked into the google website for long periods of time, dozens of visits per day per person.

I would think those characteristics would allow some kind of monetization via ads etc. I assume google looked at the numbers and saw that is not the case, and not simply at user growth. Cash cow vs growth vehicle kind of thing.

If i had to guess, it seems likely that RSS reader users are more likely to have ad-blocking enabled and less likely to click on ads if they see them. perhaps google wants to skew towards the more easily misguided.


I agree, but its not (directly) about the ads, its about the profiling. The benefits of profiling infovores should not be underestimated, especially when they are Google's core users (and the ones who spread the word).

Ultimately, if people log in less, and contribute less to the Knowledge Graph (crowd sourcing production of meta-data had to be worth something, after all) then its a net loss.

Google's experiments may cause them to believe this not to be the case, but the trouble with ruthless, consistent optimisation of individual features is that it tends to land you in a local minimum, which may not be the best end game for them.


Extend and extinguish is not a business model I appreciate.


I don't think my position is any closer to trolling than the also cliche comments of 'Google have so much money, running reader must be next-to-nothing for them', 'if Google gave me the option, I'd gladly pay for it', 'yeah sure, the (maybe) one full time staff required to look after Reader is really taking energy away from other projects' which is basically all of the comments on these threads.

That was what my post was meant to refute, and the weird sense of entitlement that Google is somehow in the wrong by killing a product which is a waste of resources for them. There are plenty of alternatives (and I suspect we'll see a whole bunch more over the coming months), complaining like we deserve reader to still be available (when consumer-pays products are clearly outside Google's business model) isn't helping.


The "weird sense" comes directly from Google's pitches, which amount to "use our free service: Trust all your data to it! Nothing will go wrong, we're here forever!".

Which is a pitch they continue to make, with Drive and Hangouts and each successive launch, but never once cautioning "btw if this doesn't work out for us we'll kill the service". They even relaunch previously failed projects in the same spaces where they've pulled this before, with Keep aiming for the same space Notebook (RIP) did. Do they think we're stupid?

They can't have their cake and eat it. They can position themselves as the trustworthy guardians for whom organising the world's information is the only goal, or they can position themselves as the ruthless capitalists where business is the ultimate goal, but they can't do both.

That's what people object to. You can say that they're naive for believing that a business won't put the bottom line first, but Google has always pretended otherwise, right from the first line of the IPO. "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one."

Fine, but then "any conventional company would do this" is not a good enough defence for your actions.


>They even relaunch previously failed projects in the same spaces where they've pulled this before, with Keep aiming for the same space Notebook (RIP) did. Do they think we're stupid?

This gets repeated a lot (understandable given its launches proximity to the Reader shutdown notice) but its inaccurate. Keep doesn't address the same use case as Evernote/Notebook at all and isn't trying to. Its more of a Notepad/Apple Notes competitor if anything.


You make a good point. I do want to point out that typically Google gives plenty of notice, and gives users the option of downloading and backing up whatever data they had stored on their service before pulling the plug. Even now, you can still head to Reader and download your personal data and whatnot, up to 15 days after they turn it off.

I don't like it either, but it's not the same as them just deleting your data suddenly, which you seem to be alluding to.


It's possible to regret the Reader shutdown, and to point out problems with Google's explanations, without also thinking that they were "wrong" to do it. This is pretty much my position. I think it's unfortunate, a strange decision, and Google's explanations don't make much sense. But I also think that they had every right to do it, and don't owe me a transparent explanation, which might reveal too much of their overall strategy. I was careful, of course, to use Reader in a way that would ensure minimal impact on me if it went away; and the week they announced their plans I switched to Newsblur.


If people get pissed off even when companies "do everything right" then companies won't try as hard in the future. Getting other people to accept changes like this from companies helps change the incentive structure so that there will be fewer cases where a free service disappears with no notice or data export.


>I'm pretty sick of this argument. Google is a company, they are not compelled to continue to support a product which is (presumably) not making money, or even if the resources they devote to it could be making more money elsewhere.

And I'm sick of hearing THIS argument. Google is a company. They make money out of our eyeballs. We have every right to criticise them whenever they do something some of us don't like.


Even if I agree with you that google handled reader shutdown pretty well once it's been decided, I'm not sure the "they're a company, they do what they please to make money" is better than the argument it's refuting.

You can't say "Please, let all of you use our products, it'll be awesome !", then say "we don't care if you're not satisfied, we do what we please". Having users also imply responsibilities.


I'm pretty sure plenty of Reader power users would have been glad to pay for it, myself included.


That would have meant customer support, wouldn't it? Google doesn't do that.


1) You can pay and get no support. You just deal with it. And it the service works OK (and there's nothing challenging about Google Reader workings) then there's nothing much to deal with, anyway.

2) Google does do support for some paid products they have. Like Adwords (of course) and GAE, and IIRC the enterprise Google offerings.


I just think it's laughable to assume that Google would shut down a product for no good reason. I don't think Google Reader's user base was nearly as large as the loud complaints would have you think.

That said, I gave Feedly a shot the other day and immediately deleted my Reddit account. I haven't been back on Reddit except to read silly football transfer rumors in a week and a half. I feel so much more sane. So there's that.


You're missing the point. They have the right to shut down the product, but nobody believes their explanation about why they are shutting it down.


> went above and beyond by giving advance notice, having an API which allows feed exporting and allowing subscriptions to continue to be exported after they close it down for those who ignored the advance notice as well as linking to alternative products.

As a side note, I hate that this is seen as "above and beyond" instead of "standard industry practice"


Google isn't charging its users. But it couldn't make any money if it has no users.


Yet another unfortunate reminder that if you're not paying, you're not the customer.


I wanted to pay. There was never a way to do so.


Presumably they're working on getting Currents onto the Web, instead of having one product for the Web and one product for mobile.


While Orkut's fair game, the rest is Google X, which I'd consider a reasonably different ball-game.


Yes, keeping a webservice running takes time. Especially one that's being hit millions of times a day.


The way Google runs its services, much of the infrastructure is an existing back-end (yay, map reduce, also an inherent front-side CDN). There's some application-specific hosting, but it's a relatively thin layer. So the hosting costs aren't all that huge.

My read: the stated rationale for killing Google Reader, especially in light of the huge cry of protest and impacts on blog traffic (Rob Malda posted web traffic results showing huge declines at WordPress and other blog sites at WashPo) suggests to me something else at work.

Just a hunch.


> My read: the stated rationale for killing Google Reader, especially in light of the huge cry of protest and impacts on blog traffic (Rob Malda posted web traffic results showing huge declines at WordPress and other blog sites at WashPo) suggests to me something else at work.

Usual theory about driving "updates" traffic away from decentralized RSS and into proprietary arms of Google+. Twitter removed RSS feed access to an account's updates for the same reason.


I was being a bit too sarcastic perhaps. My point was that I hope that everyone who regularly visits this site knows that keeping any kind of webservice up and running takes time. No matter how automated it is.

But I completely agree that there is probably an alternate force at work here.


BREAKING: In a surprise belated April Fool's joke, Google revives Reader, according to former CEO Eric Schmidt, "just to fuck with everyone who spent money developing a shitty alternative."


V2: Google Reader reads you.


Ha. Very smooth. Upvote for you :)


Right up till the 11th hour I held out hope that Google would give Reader a last minute stay of execution. A sad day indeed.


What they should have done is announced that they were killing it, then when the entirely predictable public outcry hit, 'listen to the community', and make it a paid service instead. From the numbers Feedly and Newsblur and such are picking up, it doesn't seem like a stretch that a paid version of Google Reader could have brought in at least $10M/year, even given the resulting loss of users. The only difficulty would be converting from free to paid without massive backlash. The bait and switch would accomplish that.

Hire a few full-time engineers to maintain it, and you've still got many millions of dollars in annual revenue for something that already exists. Surely even a company Google's size would be better off not throwing that away in the interest of 'focus'. But hey, Larry is clearly smarter than I am, so presumably he knows what he's doing.

Heck, maybe he even realized that Reader had become an impediment to progress and removing it would be a net good (pun intended). The progress that's been made in just the past few months is certainly exciting.


You're talking about a company with $50B revenues; $10M isn't even pocket change.

Running a "service on the side" doesn't just cause "focus" problems for senior management. It creates legal, technical, and reputation risks which far outweigh the few million bucks of profit Google might make.


I think the real cause is they don't want to promote a different platform (i m thinkin g+) as the mainstream source of content stream, and supporting RSS as a protocol is only going to dilute that goal. Even if they were making a profit on reader, they would still kill it (unless it's fuck-you profit, which it certainly isn't).

I don't agree with their goal, but since i m not a google customer, and i don't pay them money, i don't get to decide their goal.


Hm. They managed to lose me as a G+ user by discontinuing Google Reader, since Reader was the centerpoint of all my sharing activity.


And they've lost me for everything but Gmail (so far) as a result of the Reader shutdown (and other things).


its a bit annoying since an email address is tied to so many things - if google starts screwing with gmail, i m gonna be screwed hard =(


Ha, ya, I just said the same thing in reply to piqufoh regarding pocket change. The technical and focus issues I think could easily be handled by hiring a few people and having them 100% dedicated to Reader. $10M should be more than enough for that. You'd still be talking about revenue per employee of at least a couple million. (Google as a whole, with ~$50B revenue and ~50k employees averages about $1M revenue per employee.)

The potential legal and especially reputation issues I hadn't considered though. If they're trying not only for internal, but also external focus - essentially shaping how people think of the company, which seems obvious now that you mention it - I could see how they would consider 'niche' products like Reader detrimental even if they do make good money.


> make it a paid service instead

Taking a pure business centric view - We're not google's customers, advertisers are. If we paid for the service we would expect no advertising - and so google's customers would lose.


Maybe, but Google have plenty of tactical products which only have an indirect at best business model. Reader shutdown seems more a case of management vision. Under Page's reorg there are now 5 consumer facing units:

1. Knowledge (Search, Maps, News, etc) 2. Social (Google+, Blogger etc) 3. Chrome, Android, Apps 4. Youtube 5. Ads and Commerce

Most natural fit would be 1) or 2), but evidently neither Knowledge or Social wanted to pick it up. That leaves 3) as the remaining possibility through a merger with Currents, but that units already spreading itself thin.

In the end I think they really wanted to recapture the server cycles since even at Google's scale caching every single feed and creating a searchable index for each user is expensive (for this reason none of the online replacements are able to offer search so far).

They probably saw Reader as taking too many resources for its relative impact, and we know from the former product teams comments that even while work on it was still active the upper management was was never really all that effused about it at the time. Page's views didn't change after he took over so it was really just a question of when not why.


If Google was already making that kind of money purely from ads Reader, then the rest of my reasoning stands. Just hire a handful of engineers to maintain it full time and enjoy raking in millions of dollars a year for many years.

The fact that they shut it down suggests that it wasn't making millions of dollars from ads, so why not remove them and charge for it instead? As I said, the only real barrier would appear to be the reaction, which could be solved with a bit of manipulation, in fact spinning it into a PR positive.

I suspect the answer is that a few millions dollars a year is considered pocket change by Google, insufficient to waste time on. To me that reasoning seems shortsighted. Again though, it's likely that Larry Page's sight is in fact much longer than mine.


I think a lot of people would have refused to pay out of principle; it's basically a hostage negotiation. "Give us $10, and you can keep Google Reader."


That's why you need to get the users to ask you to charge for it. Say, "Sorry, we have to shut down Google Reader because it's drawing needed resources from our other projects," or whatever. Then when people say, "NO! Please, just charge for it! I'd be happy to pay $20 per year for Reader!" you benevolently listen to the community and agree to transition to a paid service instead of shutting it down.


As much as my life would have been easier this year without the decision to close Google Reader (I think this is what they call #firstworldproblems), it's a good thing that they didn't change their mind and decide to not shut it down at the last minute.

Too many people have invested too much time in creating viable alternatives to Google Reader, and un-discontinuing it would have thrown a massive spanner in the works. I probably would have stayed with an alternative out of spite.


I was thinking about this last night and even had Google kept it going I'd have stayed with Feedbin. Kill it once and there's always the possibility they'll try and do it again.

Feedbin is a small outfit with a fraction of the resources that Google has but they care about RSS reading, something Google clearly don't whatever they say or do now.

I'll happily pay a couple of bucks a month to support someone with a commitment to a product I'm interested in.


For me at least, having Reader shut down made me realize that depending on products delivered for free is ultimately unsustainable - I have no control over those services and if I can't figure out how that company is making money from me, there's little justification for that provider to continue providing that service, unmodified, for perpetuity. Self-hosted services are the only ones that you can truly rely on.

I'm hoping I'm not the only one that has come to this conclusion.


Unfortunately, the fact that you're paying for a product isn't a particularly better signal that it's sustainable, unless you individually can cover the costs of running that product. I've had for-pay services I used discontinued because they weren't profitable or because they were bought by another company and deprecated (Slicehost) even though they were profitable.

It seems like a better strategy is to assume that no service or company is forever, and demand reasonable ways to export your data or setup in the event they shut down (and time to do that export before they turn off.)


Couldn't 99% of all complaints/concerns (especially on the internet) be classified as first world problems?


If you live in the first world, sure.


If it applies to almost anything, what's the purpose behind it? Is it just kind of a lighthearted way to remind oneself to feel grateful and that daily problems aren't so big in the scheme of things? #AtLeastIHaveShelterAndPlentyToEat doesn't have the same ring to it.

Or maybe now it's mostly used preemptively against ridicule? When complaining about something, if you add #firstworldproblems it makes it impossible to accuse you of whining.


Is it just kind of a lighthearted way to remind oneself to feel grateful and that daily problems aren't so big in the scheme of things?

This is the way I've always interpreted it, which is why I thought these videos ("First World Problems Read by Third World People") were so weird and off the mark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ugM7H4EEKU*


you've raised an interesting method to disrupt new-comers - by faking an end-of-life announcement, then "listen to the community" and reinstate a product, you could effectively make the market harder to enter!


Exactly my feelings. I actually kept the tab open to see if their API kept working but the feeds stopped loading and I hit F5. Oh, the horror...


I've got a tab still open and it's been updating as of 16 minutes ago (now being Tue Jul 2 15:27:02 UTC 2013), though the same URL in a new tab brings up the tombstone.


And they actually, truly pulled the plug, with almost no warning. Now I have no idea what I'll do.


As annoyed as I am with Reader's demise, you can't really say they gave no warning. Four months heads up, and for the last few weeks daily reminders when you logged in should have gotten the message across.


I've gotten a warning/notice almost every day the last months, that Google Reader is about to shut down. That's not "with almost no warning".

You can still export your feeds from Google Takeout until the 15th of July.


Apparently you can export your subscriptions using Google Takeout until the 15th of July.


Go to the websites manually?


For me, this was a good move.

It inspired me to finally look past Google for the web based services I use daily (search, mail, rss, analytics, calendar, video hosting etc). Google's wants to know as much about me as possible. Putting all of my eggs in their basket seems like horrible idea. I've now come quite far in my exodus. Yesterday I found https://www.startpage.com/ (uses Google) which gives good results (roughly same as Swedish Google but not filter bubbled). DDG (uses different sources, but seems to weight Bing) is downright terrible when not using English as search language.


> For me, this was a good move.

> It inspired me to finally look past Google for the web based services I use daily (search, mail, rss, analytics, calendar, video hosting etc).

At the beginning I was as pissed as everyone else. Now? I love Newsblur more than I did Google Reader; I'm looking forward to checking out the new reader alternatives popping up and Fastmail is so much faster than GMail.

I still use some Google services but only when I find them to be by far the best solution.


> Google's wants to know as much about me as possible.

Which is the reason they shut it down most probably. They can data mine your documents, emails, social networking etc but something like google reader doesn't help much. They most they'll get out of it is a few rss feeds and can analyze what you like, but hell they already know what you search for so it's useless data.


I have the opposite view - when I use Reader the folks at Google know how often I click on certain topics, and how long I spend reading each topic. My gut tells me that such information would be quite useful to their search product, even if they have already know my search history. And for some users Google will not know their search history and social information.

A similar logic applies to Google Checkout (aka Google Wallet). I would have thought that knowing my purchase history would be very useful to the search algorithm.

So I really don't understand Google's approach. Their search algorithm is their prime asset, but they seem willing to degrade it bit by bit.


I think that the number of people who use Google Reader is tiny in comparison to the number of people who use gmail, which itself is probably fairly small compared to the number of people who use the search engine.


I always just assumed that they were using it to weight web page rankings, and that it probably paid off just for that reason alone.

If a website has a lot of genuine RSS subscribers in Google Reader who read it regularly, then that shows a strong degree of trust in the source, and thus a good reason to rank it highly.

You can't really mine social networking / emails for the same kind of information. Not unless everybody who used google reader started using G+ the same way (which is not gonna happen).


Wow, that's a good point though. Does anyone know whether Google uses links in private emails to refine search rankings? With gmail being the most popular free email by far, that might be a small but significant edge on the competition. (Not that Google needs such an edge at the moment, but that doesn't mean they'd pass it up.)


How is startpage a solution to the problem? If everyone stopped using google, startpage would be useless.


It is no solution to the problem, but perhaps a band aid for some of the symptoms. If everyone stopped using Google, Startpage would need to get their own crawler. I welcome a day where (in practice) a search engine doesn't have monopoly on search.

For me it is a first step. Google wont have an easy time connecting my searches to my any of my Google Profiles (where their every source of data is combined). I've been using raw Google since I left Altavista (RIP), which was quite a while ago. I'm looking forward to look into http://www.seeks-project.info/


Google lost a lot of trust and goodwill from a lot of its power users with this move. I hope for them they had a good reason.


Why do they need the trust and goodwill of a lot of power users?


read Crossing The Chasm. You don't get the late adopters unless you get the early adopters first. Google may think they've got to a point where they can just cram stuff down people's throats, but if so, it's the beginning of the end for them, like it was for Microsoft.


I am curious on what basis you say that Microsoft thinking that it could cram stuff down people's throats was the beginning of the end.

It seems to me that Microsoft behaved that way for over a decade. It resulted in some pissed off geeks, and no real problems until the Europeans fined Microsoft enough to scare the company. (A fear they never recovered from.)


I don't know that there's any one authoritative answer, but they fended off the initial Internet threat by cramming IE down everyone's throat. They did that in a number of cases, were fast followers and put people out of business by integrating/bundling. I think the attitude was they could do it again if they had to, thought they could do the same in phones and tablets, didn't listen to their customers, didn't update IE and XP for years.

Partly Microsoft got lazy and didn't execute the products customers wanted, maybe the senior people were wrong generation to realize they had the wrong products and Google and Apple were leapfrogging them, maybe all the legacy cruft in their ecosystem slowed them down, maybe the world changed so they didn't have the same market power. I don't know that fines ever really scared them into changing behavior. They flushed more money down the drain in online services than anyone ever threatened to fine them.

Even more than most, Google's business depends on trust. Once people feel they're going to get screwed over after investing time and trusting Google with their information and data exhaust, they'll go to DuckDuckGo, Apple, Facebook (ha), whatever. Google has nothing like the moat Microsoft had. On the Internet, the switch to the competition is a click away.


When people work in a the tech field, they assume a large percentage of people are power users, because they probably don't get out enough.

Every non-technical person I know has a Gmail account, they sure don't know what reader is.


The question is, how many of those people would have become Gmail users if not for Gmail's early success with the technical people. I do not know the answer to that (or even if it is an accurate premise), but one theory would be that in order to get non-technical users, you must first get the technical users, who will give your product good word of mouth and help it spread.


I would generally agree with you, but there are several popular services that I learned of from non-technical people. Things like tumbler, pinterest, snapchat come to mind. Lots of artsy social stuff out there that I have never used, but are used by non-technical people.


Of course it's a good reason: they needed create company-wide, laser-like focus on making it possible for rich pervs to shoot amateur POV hands-free.


I want to think this is funny. What's it referencing?


Google Glass, it looks like.


Ah!


Organizing the World's Information... and setting it on fire 8 years later.


It'll be less important now than it was 3-6 years ago, but get ready for all those FeedBurner subscriber count widgets to show huge subscriber # crashes as Reader no longer checks in.

Back in the day, they were a sort of informal auditing system and definitely helped me land advertisers for my blog (simply because I could "prove" I had 20,000 readers or whatever).

Thankfully I ditched the Web and moved to e-mail and know exactly how many subscribers I had, but this was certainly more luck and not any great piece of foresight on my part ;-)


This is going to sound antagonistic, but I'm genuinely curious: How many subscribers did you lose when you switched from RSS to email, and how do you know that all of them are receiving and reading your dispatches?

Personally, getting an e-mail instead of an RSS feed is sub-optimal - I can't easily add things to pocket from e-mail. I'm also wondering how many people trained their clients to re-route to spam.


I didn't do a like for like switch from the Web to e-mail, it was more specific for the format, so I can't make a direct comparison sadly. Because e-mail proved way more successful for me, I've basically let the Web properties die but that was not the original intent.

With e-mail, the engagement and revenue are way higher, and it's possible to get an accurate feel for how big the audience is (as in, I know I have 123k subscribers or whatever) and how many of those are engaged, reading, and clicking on stuff.

I was very skeptical at the start and just tried it out because of all the e-mail newsletter hoopla on HN 3-4 years ago but it's now my main business and growing more rapidly than my Web publications ever did.

There are, of course, many who are not fans of e-mail but like Facebook oriented businesses can make good money even though not everyone likes Facebook.. so too can e-mail companies do very well off the majority who are still using e-mail.


I use The Old Reade, which I can use exactly like Google Reader, with the exception that k does not always skip to the next article; if you're reading an article it skips to the top of that. Same strange behavior as Google Reader is that while the number of unread posts is correct, the content of your feed is not up-to-date, so you first have to click on the result number, then it is updated.

Apart from that, it's really nice. I never used any social features of the Reader, just the aggregation. That's why I couldn't care less if they implement RSS support or a recommendation engine in G+.


We'll see how it takes off when more users will come. It works fine feature-wise for me, it's just noticeably slower than Google Reader was... they probably don't have a large enough infrastructure yet.


google reader had this feature where you could subscribe to an rss feeds filtered by label (or folders). I wish the old reader had it (i tried inoreader, and old reader, and neither has this feature unfortunately).


I wish there was a decent alternative out there. They all seem to be a bit unpolished.

The most polished alternative I've seen is Feedly. I wrote to the founder about this many moons ago explaining that in trying to be 'innovative' with the UI, for me the whole user experience detracts so badly from the functionality I want from the app that I don't want to use it.

Where is the alternative, with the polish, without the 'innovation'. Perhaps I should build one...

I'll get my coat.


There are a few I have come to like:

These ones are all simple and much like google reader. Digg, BazQux and The Old reader all have pocket and/or similar services integrated and are all nice. I have decided that I will be using BazQux for my reader needs, it is fastest and seems to be nicely designed and is robust. It will also not be going away because it is currently profitable.

The Old Reader http://theoldreader.com/

Digg Reader(yes that digg) https://digg.com/reader

and BazQux reader https://bazqux.com/

Comma feed http://theoldreader.com/


What's wrong with Feedbin or Fever?


RIP Reader. For those looking for a replacement, especially those with an Android phone, check out Newsblur. It's all open source, the developer is accessible, and most importantly it works insanely well. I honestly like it better than Reader.


I'm trying it, but it has a few things that bug me.

They messed with the arrow keys - they no longer scroll the page. I'm always accidentally going to the next or previous article. ARGH!

I miss the smart sorting order that Reader had - it was really good about bubbling stuff I cared about up to the top and letting me whip through the rest.


The developer has listened to the feedback on scrolling and added configuration options so you can now use the arrow keys. Bugged me as well, but I'm happy with the new options.


I dislike those options. I do not want to set a percentage to scroll by; I want to use whatever my browser would normally scroll by natively.


I'd love to use NewsBlur, except when I signed up my screen is filled with French feeds, with no way to get rid of them and no indication of why.


I've been using Google Alerts via RSS for years now, primarily consuming the alerts by way of Reader, but more recently Feedly.

One thing I didn't expect was to have Alerts drop RSS support coinciding with Reader's death. However, today in Feedly I'm staring at a wall of "Google Alerts no longer supports RSS delivery" items.

This suggests to me that RSS was an output for Google products insofar as it served as a way of feeding content (and eyeballs) into Reader. Now that Reader is gone, why would Google output RSS?

Anyone seeing any other Google RSS feeds failing in a similar fashion?


I have no gmail account, no Youtube account, and no Google Reader...Google's always been a little too big for me to want to trust more than I have to, so I've gotten by without accounts on their services...

And that means I get to feel smugly superior to everyone else in this discussion.


And that also means that in other than a few of these instances, you constantly feel inferior to everyone else in the society, because of the things you are missing :).


The RSS area was pretty damns sparse outside of Reader. Were you just not using one?


For a while I was manually checking websites. I used RSSowl for a time, then Thunderbird.

RSS is a simple, open protocol (heck, they burn two out of three letters in their acronym to say it's "really simple") and there are plenty of alternatives. If they're really unsatisfactory it wouldn't be too hard to roll your own.


You can, at least about Gmail. Especially since there is no way to export your Gmail data using Google Takeout.


Or use something like Thunderbird to copy over your email to a new provider using IMAP.


That's what GMVault is for.


Do you use Youtube to watch videos? Google to search?

Also, what do you do for email, roll your own? Got any tutorials if so (I sorta want to start dropping Google myself - search and Youtube will be tough though)? Anything I found was a bit too complicated or I just didn't want to spend that much time on it.


Nobody mentioned tinytinyrss - I found it to be the best rss reader as a google reader alternative.

Its open source and also has an android app that rocks.


Sad, sad. I love seeing all the stealth replacements pop up in the last week or so.

Still, it is a sad day for RSS in general.

Google, this will not help me use G+.

Sad.


If they'd integrated it into G+ I would have been less hesitant to use it.


They arguably did do a half-ass integration with G+, removing other sharing options and removing the nascent social network that lived inside Reader.


I liked Google Reader, but all those great posts queued up with no time to read them properly felt like neglected homework. It's a shame to lose it, but maybe for the best. I won't be rushing to recreate it.

Links posted on Hacker News and Twitter allow me to find something interesting to read when I need it, without making any kind of commitment. For the very rare thing that I don't want to miss, I subscribe by email.


RIP By the way, I quite like the Digg Reader but it doesn't display the unread count regardless of the settings. Is it only me?


I don't see any unread counts either, despite turning them on in settings (the FAQ mentions that there's such a setting, although it implies it's turned on by default, whereas it was turned off for me...).

In fact, I also don't get any icons—or text, they're just blank space—for buttons... to even open the settings dialog I had to click randomly in likely-looking blank spaces on the main page. ><

I get the feeling they really rushed this out, and maybe didn't do a whole lot of testing...


Not just you. I don't see unread counts either, no matter how many times I toggle the odd-looking button in settings.


It was showing the count a few days ago. Most probably a bug. They'll fix it soon enough I guess.


I've found a decent experience using Feedly in Chrome for the desktop and GReader for Android using the Feedly API. Still not as good as EasyRSS, but it will suffice until the dust settles.

In other news: EasyRSS has been open sourced: https://github.com/davidsun/EasyRSS


If you're looking for a new reader to try, check out www.readuction.com .

It's a different take on RSS, that intelligently gives you fewer articles to read. A friend and I built it over a few months, and we'd love any feedback you have.

You can import and export your feeds, so no need to worry about having data locked in.


Looks good. But how do you resync?


"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."


On the topic of Google Reader alternatives: most of the popular alternatives involve a central online storage. I may be unique, but I'd be quite happy for an iOS app that allows me to import my OPML file of feeds and sync it locally.

Given those constraints, could anyone suggest an app that would fit the bill? I've been looking, and the only app I could find that fit the criteria so far is RSSRunner by golden-apps.com -- which I'm not quite happy with.


Sounds like Vienna would interest you... Not sure you could import your feeds directly, but it is not hard to set them up...


unless I missed something, Vienna looks like a Mac OS X app… I was looking for an iPhone/iPad app


There are tons of RSS apps with little or no syncing.

My app of choice is Reeder, which can be used with or without a syncing service.


the problem when you have 'tons of RSS apps with little or no syncing is that it becomes hard to find the ones that work in standalone mode from the rest. Thanks for the tip on Reeder. It looks great but I can't figure out where the OPML import is.


If you still haven't found a replacement, here's our list of alternatives that was on the front page of HN on Friday: https://starthq.com/apps/?q=reader

It now includes the additions mentioned in the comments and the countries where the service is hosted for those that are concerned by Prism.


In future, G+ also dead like this.......

RIP for GReader.....


My hopes are on Google Groups, which is just absymal. Hopefully it's next ...


We can only hope


If you've left finding a replacement to now, please take a second to check out kouio:

https://kouio.com

We posted it to HN a few days ago, and since then have had over 600 signups and processed over 1.5 million feed items!

We've made a ton of tiny improvements since then, with many more to come.


I tried it when you posted it, but I gave up on it when it took 15 seconds to load any content after logging in :-(


I didn't want to accept this would happen. So it's kinda hard to believe it actually did.

Oh well, more free time.


I've not enjoyed using any of the new readers so far, so will be spending my "free" time going though my Pocket and Kindle backlogs (The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches is insiprational).


Serious question: Why no one offered to buy or take over the service? Like Google Wave - Apache Wave


From what I understand, Google Reader was fairly tied into Google's infrastructure (e.g. piggybacking off of Google's web crawler for feed updates), so there wouldn't be much left if you separated Google Reader from Google.


Even though Google Reader is dead you can still migrate to alternative services, like Feedreader Online: http://feedreader.com/online/ Just use OPML files to import your feeds and categories.


I'm curious; given that HN represents a community that could very well be construed as the "power user" archetype, how much would people here have paid for Reader as a service? $5/month? $100/year? Free with a Google Drive subscription?


For Google Reader specifically, probably $0.00 - it would feel too much like a hostage negotiation at this point.

I am, however, paying $24/year for NewsBlur right now, so I guess $2/month is my starting bid.


Just cant figure it out why?? Anyways , using Feedly on web and android. Looks ok!!


It is their right to choose to discontinue a product, I would have appreciated them more anyway if they would have chosen to give back to the community and put in the limited amount of work needed to opensource it though.

Goodbye Reader.


This is hardly news now is it?


Quick poll:

Where do you stand on this?

-> Focus (1...10) Keeping the product

I´m a bit conflicted.. on one hand they lost user confidence by discontinuing Reader, on the other I completely get the approach to focus on a few things and really do them well.


This sucks. Hitting RE in Alfred has become muscle memory by now.

I've switched to Feedly and it's pretty decent. Something feels a little off, but it does most of what I want.

Sigh.


Gmail's days may be numbered -- you never know..


Perhaps, but I doubt it - it's a freaking goldmine of data. RSS feeds - lets Google know a little bit about you, but not in the way that your personal searches and your personal communications do.


Should be a fun next couple of weeks as all the Reader replacements get a big spike in traffic and deal with inevitable scaling problems.


Who actually paid money directly to Google for this service? If your answer is 'not me', then I find it tough to complain.


So what! My native RSS reader is still working.


Its for the better. First step towards a 'news push'[ex. Google currents] rather than a 'news pull'


All data deleted is a dick move. Google should at least be able to preserve takeout data for eternity.


The Android application still seems to be working, but they'll probably kill it soon enough.


3rd party apps are still working, I wonder how long until they are cut off?


Reeder has been cut off (or at least for me). It just had in update that adds feedly and feed wrangler.


Yep, it's gone now. The reeder update was just in the nick of time. I wonder if someone at google was waiting for it to update ;-)


Note that Reeder (on iOS) had Feedbin and Feedburner support prior to this update.


Unfortunately it was only an iPhone Reeder update, not an iPad/Mac one.


thank god it added feedly just in time :)


Cached perhaps?


Good-night, sweet prince.


Ultimate dick move for them to link to Google Reader alternatives.


Really, or are you being sarcastic? That seems pretty classy to me...


Now if only Feedly will allow me some way to pay them...


There's NewsBlur for that... :)


Feedbin have been using the money I and others have been paying to enhance their service. http://blog.feedbin.me/


Happens all the time… You are the product not the customer… Thats why we built Pixter - http://pixter.in


Bastards, they killed reader :)


RIP


no news.

has been chewed over and over. here and everywhere.

yet, get the top position at HN.

What does this means?


The stages of grief each take time, and the amount of time varies from person to person. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model


A Sad Day. RIP.


Long live to Google Reader! I hope, it will allow some startup to come up with great products, but please ,think users first , not showing off your html5 skills or whatever... RSS is about reading text content and suscribing to feeds , not bells and whistles or closed social networking plateforms.


Good Lord people. Get on with your lives!


Last time I ever trust that company with a service I rely on.

and before you ask no I have never used GMail


Because they closed a service? I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone - company, non-profit, whoever - who will maintain a service indefinitely.

If you want to keep something running for as long as possible, you need to eliminate single points of failure like those (except yourself, of course). That means building a stack where each part is either ran by you or a replaceable commodity.

For example, I run my email, RSS and website on a generic VPS (of which there are many providers) which runs an open source stack that I know how to configure and maintain.

I still rely on other people, but not on a single person or company.


I feel exactly the same way - wherever possible I run my own services on my own servers, so I know where my data's going, and I'm not at the mercy of someone else changing or removing a feature I like, or shutting it down completely. If I fall out with the hosting company, I can just get another server elsewhere.

I only switched to self hosted for RSS recently though - when google announced they were shutting reader, I figured I'd write my own for an existing django site. Quick shameless plug: I released it on Sunday, in case anyone's interested - https://github.com/radiac/django-yarr

Which brings me on to my main exception for self-hosting: public repositories on github. The collaborative features they provide seem worth the loss of control - although their recent UI enhancements (making it harder to check issue counts, find repo addresses etc) does rather prove my point.


> Because they closed a service? I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone - company, non-profit, whoever - who will maintain a service indefinitely.

If a company isn't willing to ever close a service voluntarily, its going to have a much higher risk (because it can't adapt to market changes) of having to close all of its services involuntarily.

So, yeah, I'd agree with that.


So it goes.


i can not belive..google reader is dead..


.


We hardly knew ye.




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