When a free-to-use service closes

When a free-to-use service closes

Summary: Google's decision to retire Google Reader has sparked outrage. Get over it.


Google's cleaning house these days; chopping services they deem irrelevant in their quest to dominate the Internet. Google Cloud Connect, Building Maker, and Snapseed (desktop) all got the axe (and rumored today is the demise of Google-owned travel guide Frommer's print editions).  One closure has gotten the most attention--Google Reader.  Used by many, it was (still is?) considered the best RSS Reader available.

The outrage over the closing has been high, and Google is feeling the backlash.  One example is with the announcement of Google Keep (a service to compete with Microsoft's OneNote and Evernote). Comment boards are flooded with statements along the lines of, "How can I trust Google to keep the service going? What if they kill it?" Of course filled with witty musings on the word "Keep" as well.

As a user of Google Reader, sure, it's unfortunate that we will no longer get to use it.  But the anger about shuttering Reader seems ridiculous.

Get over it.

  • Your collection of RSS Feeds will be intact until July, plenty of time to move.
  • There are tools to migrate to other RSS readers (and a big opportunity for those other readers).
  • It was free.

Google cites falling usage as the reason to retire the product. That's not surprising as user behavior changes; people keep up-to-date on sites through those sites' Facebook or Twitter postings as well as content shared by friends.

My speculation is many people screaming about the closure won't bother with migrating their RSS subscriptions to a new service, proving that Google was right about low usage.

Is it a case of complaining about it after it's gone and when we don't need it?

Topics: Google, Software, Web development


Howard spent 14 years in the tech industry working as a programmer, evangelist, and community manager for Microsoft. In 2009, he had lived his "dream" of middle-management long enough and opened a Japanese restaurant called Standing Sushi Bar. Trading in stock grants and software licenses for raw fish and cash, he enjoys mixing his passion for technology into the daily hustle of small business.

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  • Google apologist

    "Is it a case of complaining about it after it's gone and when we don't need it?"

    This article exposes its self as classic corporate apologetics by implying that people didn't need or use Reader -- a blatant falsehood.

    "Get over it."

    Tell that to Google, who shut down their most successful attempt at a social network and lost hundreds of thousands of REAL loyal and regular users to alternative platforms. I suspect they believed their own figures about Google+ "active" users.
    Tim Acheson
    • Free..

      Regardless of technicalitys the article is correct, it was a free service and there are alternatives. A month after it is closed down will anyone really care?
      • we all need an UPGRADE not just a replacement

        Well, a replacement would be nice indeed, but it can’t really match the original iGoogle and doesn’t really add value to your startpage... I feel it’s somehow a downgrade from the original iGoogle.

        You you will enjoy the change, I felt a real Upgrade after I start using http://startific.com

        It has a beautiful interface, you will love it!
        George Oneday
  • Is it really worth it for Google?

    Well considering the backlash, the real question is, how much damage did this do to Google? And was it really worth it, considering they are literally kicking people off their platform.

    To put it simply, i used Google News because it was right there next to Google Reader. I even tapped into other Google services (G+) because i was logged into Google Reader, not the other way around. I'm not moving on, so while you might say "deal with it" , the end result is, i move on to another platform entirely for my news. How can this be good for Google?

    Also, Google's "excuse" might be "decline of users" , but what i don't understand is, why is Feedly suddenly the number 1 free app on the Itunes store? Really? Feedly also reported like 500k new signups in the 2 days after the announcement by Google, again, that's ALOT of "decline" right there.

    Google is about advertising, i'm just surprised they would kick so many people off their platform like that. They could with MINIMAL outrage have incorporated Google reader/RSS into Google Plus or Google News , but instead they just assume no one is using it?

    So it's nice to say "there's alot of alternatives", but i would really like to know WHY would Google do this? It's just absurd in times where companies backpedal on smaller outrages like Instagram changing their Terms & Conditions for the sake of not losing all their users.
  • I enjoy Reader better the Currants

    Everyday I hit open Reader on my phone and skim through the headlines and read the articles that reader quickly loads.

    Currents, well I tried that and find it slow and clunky. First off, it loads everything at once and it seems that everything want to be the first headline and fights for space. The other thing is that I have to import my Feeds from Reader because Currents cannot find them.

    RSS feeds are still the standard default subscription. These new currents have to be implemented by websites. I don't see why Reader has to be tossed away.

    It's like Instant messaging. Facebook is the new chat, but AIM, and IRC are still around.
  • A PR disaster for Google

    Your speculation.... is half a million people migrating to feedly in just a few days of this announcement (not the cut off deadline) not "many"?

    Yes it was a free service; problem was that Google made it the best that was out there, which closed down the majority of the competition. They then just yanked the whole thing. If they can't see a profit from it, then yes... close the service, but open source the code. It's not rocket science.
    jan bLinQue
    • Might be, that was the goal

      To destroy everybody else, that is.
  • How not to win friends but to alienate people

    Its nothing new...

    I'm still grumpy about the loss of Google Code Search..

    in protest I refuse to use Chrome..
  • Signs of the Times

    Customer Loyalty and Vendor Loyalty continue to mean less and less. Brick and Mortar relationships between the customer and the business are becoming a thing of the past.

    The spirit of Progress is perfect in areas of Technology and Infrastructure.
    In areas of Relationships and Values, the old was better.
  • Why I shy away from many MS products

    Reader is a great product. Can I live without it? You bet. That isn't my primary concern. Over the years I've enjoyed using many of the Google products because I didn't feel like I had to worry about Google pulling the rug out from under me like MS does so often. Hope this isn't the start of something.

    If you put a product out there and if it is obvious it isn't going anywhere then kill it early and minimize user pain. Otherwise, commit to it.
    Keeping Current
  • "Use Reader, it's better", they said.

    Years ago we were required to run an RSS reader on our own computer, so we did. Then, Google said, "use Reader, it's better." And it was, so we did. Which meant that all the development on the desktop readers ceased.

    And now they're saying "we don't want you any more; you're on your own again." Forcing us to use old desktop readers or sign up with yet another web service. Really, how much would it take to just leave it up, even if they don't do anything with it? They could, say, add some ads to cover the cost...

    This is just highlighting, once again, the problem with web based applications: too much is out of your control. The provider think nothing of changing the look, changing the features, or -- as in this case -- shuttering the whole thing on a whim.

    I like new features and updates as much as the next tech-guy but I really want it more under my own control as to when I apply the update. I'd pay for the privilege of having more control, even.
    • Dependency Chains

      Suddenly, the Amish don't seem so silly, do they? Their whole low-tech philosophy is geared around not being dependent on things manufactured, or which require supplies that come from, a long way away. . .
      rocket ride
      • It's about control

        It's about users having control over the products they use.
  • Yawn

    That is all.
  • Facebook no way to keep up on news sites, RSS was waaaay better

    As long as Facebook dictates which and whose posts I'm shown in my newsfeed, it will not be a useful venue for keeping up with news sites. RSS was a much better solution for this.

    I am definitely not happy that Google is shuttering Reader. Yes, I know there are replacements out there.
  • good by Google

    to me Google can turn off all of it's services they spy on us and sale our data and we get not dime of it and they sale our data to any one with money and yes i do not and will not use Google
  • Get over it! :)

    I really don't need google any longer.
    I never an Android phone, and I was never really using google reader. I used to regularly use my own, customized igoogle page but google decided to take that page offline as well. The only service I really use frequently is google talk - especially since Skype is no alternative due to security issues.
    However, I'd also say, GET OVER IT, the internet is much more fun without Google!
  • Noting new Under The Sun

    Remember Geo Cities and Igoogle

    It way I do not trust my picture and other item on free service or the cloud. I am using skydrve but will me moving to OwnCoud and VPN to a larger network drive at home. All my blogs are word-press on a web host as well as my email servers. I do no use Yahoo or Gmail.
    The best advice is not rely on anything not on ones PC or Webhost.
  • Huh?!

    Call me a "Google Newbie", but I don't think I had ever even heard of this service until now. I mean MAYBE I had seen a web app or extension in the Chrome Web Store for it, but I didn't think anything of it, because I don't use RSS feeds.
    Richard Estes
  • Good chance to check the alternatives again.

    Back when I switched to Google Reader(when Newsgator shut down), I was blown away by their features. With Reader's shutdown, I was VERY concerned because I hadn't seen any worthy alternatives. That's just because I wasn't looking.

    Before searching, I was considering creating my own Google Reader alternative(yeah, that would take a while). Thankfully Netvibes is 90-95% as good as Google Reader, after switching from their default widget view to reader view. Haven't tried any others yet(Feedly is next), but I feel comfortable now. Hopefully somebody has made a better reader than Google.
    Garrett Williams