In a surprise move, Google is to shut down its popular RSS tool ‘Google Reader’ in July, sparking outcry from its loyal user base.
Launched back in 2005, the tool works as a content aggregator of web feeds, meaning users can go to just one place to view content from their favourite sites.
Despite a loyal fan base, Google Reader users are now being set the task of finding a suitable replacement with the next three months.
Google said the closure was due to a declining number of users and a drive to pour “all of our energy into fewer products” as competition with the likes of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft intensifies.
The tool is considered vital by many of the journalists and independent bloggers that use it — helping drive readers to their site without the expense of advertising and alerting readers when they update.
The result was an immediate outpouring of protest on social media, with some accusing the company of “committing appicide” by “murdering” Google Reader.
NBC TV host Ann Curry urged her Twitter followers to “mass tweet” Google CEO Larry Page to save the service.
The founder of MetaFilter.com — one of the original and still most widely used Web discussion forums — said he would quit his job to work for any company aiming to take over and improve the reader.
“I think RSS is so important that I’d take a job (leaving MeFi) at any startup aiming to make an improved Google Reader (w/social features),” wrote Matt Haughey in a tweet. “I’m serious,” he added, “and feel free to email me. MetaFilter can continue with the employees running things.”
Less than 24 hours since Google broke the news, there are at least three petitions on change.org with more than 37,000 signatures combined demanding the search giant "Keep Google Reader Running" and "Do not remove Google Reader on July 1, 2013".
But the company said Google Reader would be retired on July 1 due to a dwindling number of users.
Software engineer Alan Green explained in a blog post:
"We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We're sad too. There are two simple reasons for this. Usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience. To ensure a smooth transition, we're providing a three-month sunset period so you have sufficient time to find an alternative feed-reading solution. If you want to retain your Reader data, including subscriptions, you can do so through Google Takeout. Thank you again for using Reader as your RSS (Rich Site Summary) platform."
The move comes as part of Google’s latest ‘spring cleaning’ drive as it focuses on fewer products, such as its social network Google+ and its hugely profitable search and YouTube operations.
Google Reader and seven other services are getting the axe, bringing the firm's total of features closed since 2011 to 70.
Other products being shut down include the company's Building Maker, Cloud Connect, Apps Script's GUI builder and five UiApp widgets, Search API for shopping and the CalDAV API .
The internet giant also announced that it'll no longer sell or provide updates for Snapseed Desktop for Mac and Windows.