Google announced yesterday that it is shuttering eight more products, which makes it 70 they’ve closed down since they started their cull in 2011. I’m sure this is the right decision for them, and I applaud their focus and desire to do a small number of things well but Google Reader was part of the list this time and I worry about what this closure means for bloggers and power blog readers.
There are any number of signs our there that the blogosphere is in decline. Google saying it closed Reader because user numbers were declining is and the rumoured acquisition of Pulse by LinkedIn for ‘over’ $50m are two from this week, and very few developers are updating their tools for bloggers anymore.
The closure of Google Reader, and the knock on effect on businesses like our portfolio company Taptu that rely upon the Google Reader infrastructure will on the one hand make it harder for people to read blogs like this one, and on the other hand make it harder for news hounds like myself to stay on top of multple sources. I understand that this is happening because we are small in number and that we don’t like to pay much for our tools, but it is still hard to see how it is a good thing.
I think two developments have combined to reduce expectations of the size of the blogger/news hound market. Firstly, Twitter, Tumblr and alternative lower effort blogging platforms which combine creation and conumption have taken a large slice of the market, and secondly I think that early estimates of the number of potential power users of platforms like Google Reader were overdone in the first place.
People are trying to save Google Reader, and one way to do that would be for Google to open source the code. I hope that they succeed.