When Google announced that it would be shutting down Reader, they made sure to give its loyal fan base a reason. It wasn’t something that people agreed with, but how could you really argue with them when they play the “decline in usage” card?
According to what several sources close to the company have revealed to Buzzfeed, however, there be a little more to the story. Google Reader apparently didn’t have an engineering lead. Other employees that would theoretically be able to take over the position never stepped up, and the service was no longer a live project at the company despite being usable by the public.
The big reason for all of that is because Larry Page and his inner circle of Google higher-ups didn’t see it as an important strategic priority. And when you’re an employee over at Google, why work on something that your big boss doesn’t care about when you can work on something that will get you noticed? It might sound a little sad or even selfish, but it’s understandable.
One of my issues with it is that Google has been known to offer its employees its 20 percent time policy, where Googlers can devote a chunk of their time to personal projects. Did no one at the company see Reader worthy enough of their time, despite how passionate its users were about it? I’d even go as far as saying that some people at Google probably used it, too.
My second issue is with Google Reader no longer being a “live project.” So what? It didn’t need to be. The service had all the features that kept its users (and myself, in case you hadn’t noticed) coming back to use it every single day. It could have stayed the same way for the next ten years and I’m sure there would still be people using it.
At the end of the day, however, keeping the service running probably cost them money. And if it wasn’t part of Larry Page’s plans for the future, there really wasn’t any incentive for Google employees to work on it.
But hey, at least we have services like Feedly now.