Google will end its Google Reader RSS service July 1, citing declining usage.
Fans of the news and information aggregation service, however, were quick to criticize Google's decision, with at least one online petition collecting almost 50,000 signatures within 24 hours of its creation on Change.org. Several other petitions also were created and are gaining signatures by the hour.
Google unveiled the move to end Reader in a March 13 post about an assortment of service cuts that the company is making in the next few months as part of a house cleaning project it began in 2011, according to Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure and a Google Fellow.
"We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite Websites," Hölzle wrote. "While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months."
Interestingly, the news of the demise of Reader was buried in the sixth paragraph of the 10-paragraph blog post, among several lesser services that also will be ending soon, including Google Building Maker, Google Cloud Connect and Google Voice App for BlackBerry.
"These changes are never easy," wrote Hölzle. "But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in [users'] lives."
In a separate post on the Google Reader Blog, Alan Green, a Google software engineer, wrote March 13: "We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We're sad too."
The move is being made for two key reasons, Green wrote, including that the use of Google Reader has declined over time and that "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."
The July 1 shutdown date will give users three months to find alternatives, wrote Green.
Users will be able to retain and transfer their Reader data, including subscriptions, to other services using Google Takeout, he wrote.
Reached March 14 via email, a Google spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the company's plans.
"We've given an overview of our reasoning and plans in our posts yesterday on the Google Official Blog and the Google Reader Blog," she wrote. "There are a number of non-Google alternatives for RSS users, and you can export your Reader data, including your subscriptions, in three steps."