Check out their efforts here: http://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Google_Reader
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.
Yeah, Reader held back the development of the robot car, glasses, floating balloon internet and the brazilian social site...
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?
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.
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.
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 :)
They want to shut it down, fine, I don't really care. But the result is not "focus".
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
> 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...
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.
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.
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.)
They've shut down maybe 50 services over the past few years under this justification.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2) Google does do support for some paid products they have. Like Adwords (of course) and GAE, and IIRC the enterprise Google offerings.
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.
As a side note, I hate that this is seen as "above and beyond" instead of "standard industry practice"
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.
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.
But I completely agree that there is probably an alternate force at work here.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
1. Knowledge (Search, Maps, News, etc)
2. Social (Google+, Blogger etc)
3. Chrome, Android, Apps
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.
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.
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.
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.
I'm hoping I'm not the only one that has come to this conclusion.
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.)
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.
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:
You can still export your feeds from Google Takeout until the 15th of July.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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).
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/
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.)
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.
Every non-technical person I know has a Gmail account, they sure don't know what reader is.
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 ;-)
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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
Digg Reader(yes that digg)
and BazQux reader
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.
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?
And that means I get to feel smugly superior to everyone else in this discussion.
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.
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.
Its open source and also has an android app that rocks.
Still, it is a sad day for RSS in general.
Google, this will not help me use G+.
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.
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...
In other news: EasyRSS has been open sourced: https://github.com/davidsun/EasyRSS
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.
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.
My app of choice is Reeder, which can be used with or without a syncing service.
It now includes the additions mentioned in the comments and the countries where the service is hosted for those that are concerned by Prism.
RIP for GReader.....
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.
Oh well, more free time.
I am, however, paying $24/year for NewsBlur right now, so I guess $2/month is my starting bid.
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.
I've switched to Feedly and it's pretty decent. Something feels a little off, but it does most of what I want.
has been chewed over and over. here and everywhere.
yet, get the top position at HN.
What does this means?
and before you ask no I have never used GMail
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 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.
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.