How big is the Google Reader team

More thoughts on the Google Reader Sunset

The first shock has been digested, even if the first click this morning went to Google Reader again and my Twitter feed and all forums are completely taken aback. Even if Google thinks that the reader has a declining number of users, it has still been indispensable for power users.

So why this step? Brian Shih, Product Manager of the reader until 2011, reveals on Quora that it has not fit into the company's strategy for a long time:

Let's be clear that this has nothing to do with revenue vs operating costs. Reader never made money directly (though you could maybe attribute some of Feedburner and AdSense for Feeds usage to it), and it wasn't the goal of the product.

Reader has been fighting for approval / survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I'm pretty sure reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened. It was often for some reason related to social:

  • 2008 - let's pull the team off to build OpenSocial
  • 2009 - let's pull the team off to build Buzz
  • 2010 - let's pull the team off to build Google+

It turns out they decided to kill it anyway in 2010, even though most of the engineers opted against joining G +. Ironically, I think the reason Google always wanted to pull the Reader team off to build these other social products was that the Reader team actually understood social (and tried a lot of experiments over the years that informed the larger social features at the company) [ 1]. Reader’s social features also evolved very organically in response to users, instead of being designed top-down like some of Google’s other efforts [2].

I suspect that it survived for some time after being put into maintenance because they believed it could still be a useful source of content into G +. Reader users were always voracious consumers of content, and many of them filtered and shared a great deal of it.

Accordingly, he was treated negligently, he was hardly advertised. The big push into the social sector with Google+ first mutilated it and killed important features. It was no longer developed and now it is finally dead.

As an alternative, I've now switched to The Old Reader. In terms of handling, it works just like the old Google Reader and the change went smoothly despite the server overload. Other people are currently switching to Feedly or Newsblur more and more. All of these services are currently “suffering” from a huge onslaught and are therefore often down or extremely slow. In the next days and weeks, however, that should subside. The basic problem remains: You are dependent on a provider, if he goes bankrupt or if he changes the business model, that's it. So I'm currently also considering whether I should invest the $ 30 for Fever, which runs on my own server. But TT-RSS or the plugin for WordPress announced by Dan Cohen could also be an interesting alternative.

This development is surprisingly positive for the RSS reader market. Instead of the large, no longer actively developed monopoly, various small providers now have the opportunity to reach a larger number of users with their more innovative products. Instapaper founder Marco Arment puts it this way:

Google Reader is a convenient way to sync between our RSS clients today, but back when it was launched in 2005 (before iPhones), it destroyed the market for desktop RSS clients. […] It may suck in the interim before great alternatives mature and become widely supported, but in the long run, trust me: this is excellent news.

Of course, the question of the future also arises for various other Google products. Feedburner has also been counted for a long time and is unlikely to survive the next wave of purges either. If you let your feeds run over it, you should slowly start thinking about an exit strategy. As a blogger on Blogspot, I would also look for an alternative or link my own domain on site. By now killing important core products, Google is also shaking confidence in the long-term availability of its services. Buzz, Wave & Co never had a larger number of users, but the reader did. What does that say about Gmail, Drive, Docs, Calendar & Co? Will Google kill these services at some point? What about Google Books? If the quarrels with the publishers get too big and the books sell better in the Play Store, will the service be discontinued? The reader attitude destroys a lot of trust.

For me, this means that in the medium term I will be installing even more services on my own server. This website costs me 5 euros a month, which is easy to get over. I can host my blog here, my wiki serves as a note platform, my photos are in the Photolog and it certainly doesn't hurt to slowly migrate the mails from Gmail. If I now have a suitable reader and maybe. find a self-hosted bookmarking service and finally set about installing OwnCloud, on the one hand a lot of my data stays with me, on the other hand I am more independent from the big monopolists.

When viewed in daylight (or rather gloomy sky, snowfall and far too little lux), the reader setting turns out to be not as dramatic as it appeared yesterday. The fact that the alternatives are now being strengthened and that many different, smaller providers can conquer the market can turn out to be an opportunity for RSS. That can be better than the reader that has been comatose for years.

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