Why Google Reader Is Closing According To Former 3 Year Reader PM

Mar 15, 2013 • 8:03 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Brian ShihBrian Shih was the Google Reader Product Manager for about three years before leaving Google in 2011. He explained why he thinks Google Reader was shut down based on his experience working with the team for about three years. He makes it clear that he doesn't know the reason but he is speculating based on his long time spent with the team.

Why was Google Reader killed? Because the engineers who worked on Google Reader understood social and sharing better than anyone else. He said, within Google Reader, sharing was easy, fluid and very popular. That was until Google removed most of the sharing features when Google+ came around.

Brian said that most likely the Google Reader engineers did not want to leave the team to work on new things but rather they were forced to. He said it happened at least three times in his tenture there.

  • 2008 - let's pull the team off to build OpenSocial
  • 2009 - let's pull the team off to build Buzz
  • 2010 - let's pull the team off to build Google+

He said:

It turns out they decided to kill it anyway in 2010, even though most of the engineers opted against joining G+. Ironically, I think the reason Google always wanted to pull the Reader team off to build these other social products was that the Reader team actually understood social (and tried a lot of experiments over the years that informed the larger social features at the company)[1]. Reader's social features also evolved very organically in response to users, instead of being designed top-down like some of Google's other efforts[2].

Okay, so now I know it wasn't all my fault. ;-)

Forum discussion at Quora.

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03/15/2013 12:15 pm

sounds to me Google was doing much trial and error with their products, trying to have a clone for almost any successful product or service on the Internet. In the end, they leave it altogether, the team members leave to other companies and the product gets killed off.

Praveen Sharma

03/15/2013 12:36 pm

Killing your such successful product to clone someone's successful product, not a great idea for sure. You dropped your own product and even didn't got what you expected from that clone.

Money Beagle

03/15/2013 12:45 pm

I don't get why they have to shut it down. Leave it in steady state and just move the developers to other stuff. The overhead costs to continue it would be minimal, and let's not forget that every Google Reader user is interacting with Google pages. While they might not be converting Google Reader views to direct monetization, they'll simply lose those touches.


03/15/2013 12:46 pm

At Google it is now basically a case of G+ or die. Larry Page has made that clear. If G+ can't be integrated into what ever you are working on, then expect to be "LET GO" in the very near future.

Marc Winter

03/15/2013 02:37 pm

I hope by now even some of the staunchest Google fan boys realize that Google is not doing it all "for the user". It's the cash that counts (how very surprising!)

Jeremy Morgan

03/15/2013 06:26 pm

Unfortunately these type of moves are exactly what's expected as soon as you have shareholders to answer to.

Jawad Latif

03/18/2013 09:50 am

I am personally so disturbed with the news of Reader's closing. I am a user of it from last 2 years.

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