Good riddance Google Reader: Now let's move on

It's okay to say goodbye to Google Reader - a service you don't really need and that can be easily replaced.

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In less than ten days Google Reader gets the axe and joins a growing graveyard of Google services that deserved to go. For many the Google Reader closure sparked outrage, shock, and confusion. But I'm here to tell you change is good. Google is arguably the most successful Internet company today. It didn't get to where it is without taking risks and knowing when to fish or cut bait.

Google Raven

It's true, Google Reader was a reliable basic RSS (really simple syndication) reader loved by millions. But as an avalanche of articles have aptly pointed out since Google announced its demise, Reader had lots of competition. The Internet is bursting with " Google Reader Alternative" stories making the resounding point: Google Reader no longer fulfills an unanswered need.

Let's also point out here usage of Reader has been steadily dropping replaced by alternative content discovery methods such as Twitter and Facebook feeds. Its departure - while not putting a dent in reducing the amount of Google services bloat - is a necessary part of evolving as a company.

Here is how Google put it: "To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact."

On July 1 Reader joins a list of 70 services (or Google product features) that have bit the dust since 2011. The graveyard of Google services are a mix of obsolete services, ones that have evolved and merged into another product, and some that were just big flops.

Google's greatness didn't come from refusing to kill Wave, Google Health, or the photo editing service Picnik (all dead). It comes from taking risks, sometimes falling flat on its face, and knowing when to throw in the towel and move on.

Perhaps Google's greatness can be measured by its failures as well as its successes. That's something its competitors could learn something from.

Remember Yahoo's service Pipes, a service that allowed you to create RSS mashups combining many feeds into one? It's actually still around. The Yahoo service doesn't even get routine updates - the last post to the Yahoo Pipes Blog is from 2012 and an demo showcasing how the service works is broken.

Bing also has a bunch of dead-weight services. While I have never used Microsoft's Bing Desktop the site Digital Trends makes a convincing argument it's time for the service to go. In a post "Bing Desktop for Windows: So Lame It's Practically Spamware " Jeffrey Van Camp argues:
"The update.. adds a giant Bing Search box to the middle of your desktop. The only feature of the box is to type search queries, which brings up the Bing Web site in a browser window (where it belongs). That’s it. A big ugly search box that you can’t move around (you can only set it to the middle of the screen or top). Was using Bing that hard before?"

Without Google's willingness to take risks or knowing when to quit the company might not be what it is today.

Read more of Tom Spring's Planet Google blog and follow Tom on Twitter (@zpring) and Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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