Google announced in early March it would close the doors on Reader, its popular RSS reader that stood for almost 10 years. The news surprised millions who relied on the service to aggregate everything from blog posts to New York Times articles. At the time it was considered one of the company’s more successful services.
Google dabbles in just about every area of consumer technology. From TV to web analytics, the Silicon Valley giant’s tried it all, but given the closure of Reader, Google wants to focus more of its energy on less projects. In a statement on its official blog, they said “we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.” That’s great news for current projects like Fiber and Glass, but how does it choose?
Perhaps the company’s most ambitious project, Google Glass aims to change how we stay connected in a way a science-fiction movie could only imagine. The glasses will record video, give you the weather, video chat with friends and family and even pair with your Android phone to send data between the two devices. You can do this all without lifting a finger, using only your voice to guide it along.
The new specs come with a hefty price tag ($1,500) but Google plans on the device’s early success to quickly lower the cost over time. It’s clear that, unlike other projects that have quickly come and gone, they’re all in on Glass.
From Mountain View to Kansas City, Google aims at revolutionizing Internet service by creating the first affordable one-gigabit-per-second service in Kansas City and surrounding rural areas. Google field tested new products in small towns like Topeka in the past, so Kansas is a common ground to try out the new service.
Before the first lines were installed, Fiber was a wild success. Though only a small region has access to the service, many Internet users across the country are begging for rapid expansion. According to Internetproviders.com, Fiber will start offering services to homes in Austin by mid-2014. Time Warner Cable, Google’s primary competitor on the Kansas City area, dismissed the need for a 1-Gbps service despite public demand, said a BGR article.
Google Reader’s last product manager, Brian Shih, said in an interview with Forbes the company missed a big opportunity by closing Reader. Despite a rise in public success, the efforts toward the service were declining in the years leading up to its closing. But Shih said the real tragedy isn’t the shutdown, but that Reader never reached its full potential in the first place.
In fact, Reader was an early innovation space for many features Google+ uses today. Sharing, comments and following friends’ activity were all amenities of Reader before Google+ adopted them. Like parts from an old car, these services were stripped down and sent elsewhere before closing the doors on Reader.
When you look at where Google’s resources are going, it helps to step back and look at the big picture. Glass, Fiber and Google+ are all part of the company’s greater ecosystem of products. In the same way dedicated Apple users own an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, Google wants to create a series of products and services that intertwine with each other and encompass users to expand to other Google services. Despite all its popularity, Reader just wasn’t a piece of that puzzle and that’s why Google closed the doors.