Google has announced yet another spring cleaning of its various services, and this time around, the company is giving the axe to its Google Reader RSS aggregator. The service, which originally launched back in 2005, will be officially put out to pasture on July 1st, 2013. Reader has gone through a number of iterations, but it had not been significantly updated in a long time. The last time that Google updated the product, it built in integration for the Google+ social network and removed Reader's own native sharing service, causing a bit of a backlash with die hard users. Google is offering users a way to export their Reader content, including lists of users that they follow and starred and liked articles.
In addition to killing off Reader, beginning next week Google is ending support for the Google Voice app for BlackBerry smartphones, instead pointing users toward the HTML5 webapp. The company will no longer sell or update the desktop versions of its Snapseed photo editing app, and a number of other developer APIs are also being killed off.
Lack of usage and a 'focus on fewer products' are to blame
While a number of users will be affected by the end of Google Voice for BlackBerry and the various API services, the biggest blow for many will be the disappearance of Google Reader. Google says it is killing it off because "usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products." As one of the most popular RSS aggregators around, the death of Google Reader could spell doom for the RSS protocol itself, which has seen waning popularity since the rise of social sharing services. Additionally, there is a rather healthy ecosystem of third party apps for mobile devices that use Google Reader to synchronize news articles. These apps will have to find another method of importing articles from the web or just fade off into the sunset when Reader meets its ultimate demise. Either way, we'll be pouring some out for Google Reader come July 1st, and be looking for new way to keep up with our favorite sites on the web in the meantime.