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Google’s Story That Google Reader Traffic Declined Is BS When You Put That Traffic Alongside Google+

Posted by Bob Warfield on March 15, 2013

It wasn’t hard to read between the lines–I’ve been calling Google’s decision to drop Google Reader a Microsoft-esque decision made to try to push customers to their other products, and especially to Google+.  Google’s story that it needed to be done because of declining traffic is BS when you look at the real numbers.  Buzz Feed took care of that for us very nicely:


Not only was it not declining, it was actively growing, while Google+ stayed flat.  Cancelling projects like this is what happens when politically unpopular projects start to make the higher up’s projects look like failures.  It’s one of the many ways Big Companies manage to shoot themselves in the foot every day.  It isn’t a stretch to believe that somebody got concerned there might even be a resurgence in Google Reader’s popularity underway.

7 Responses to “Google’s Story That Google Reader Traffic Declined Is BS When You Put That Traffic Alongside Google+”

  1. Vaughan Merlyn said

    Great post, Bob! Thanks for calling this one out! As a moderate Google fan – I use gmail, use(d) Google Reader heavily and enthusiastically, use Google Docs and usually search first on Google, I was absolutely disgusted with their decision to drop Reader. This action will forever taint my view of Google, and will influence me to look for alternatives to every Google offering! Google – you really blew it this time!

  2. Interesting observation. Not coincidentally, Google is much involved now with implementing and refining author rank vs page rank. RSS readers connected you to a news stream. Google+ connects you to the author or publisher and in that sense it’s more ubiquitous than, for example, a blog. So on G+ you follow people or companies as they post and share content, but G+ doesn’t really have hooks to other streams like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. So it seems to me that Google wants G+ to be the definitive stream, much like DMOZ is the definitive directory. In doing so Google is basically saying, “if you want your stuff found on our search, better share it through G+ buddy.” It all boils down to search. RSS feeds did nothing in regards to search relevance … well, not as far as anything I’ve read at least. So if you get your news via RSS vs G+, Google is in a sense inhibiting adoption of G+. Get it? Or, when did I stop making sense?

    • It’s an interesting dimension to be able to follow by person (like RSS) rather than by topic (like emailed search results) and very useful. But to do so on a platform that forces the person to do all the work of posting and that does not integrate with other platforms makes it pretty useless. This is typical Google Hubris though, and they didn’t invent it. Microsoft was insisting you kiss their ring in various ways and the whole thing goes back to beginning of time. It’s never as good an idea as Open Standards. People love Google’s search today, but as Google increasingly chooses to perturb results not to produce better results for searchers, but to produce more ad revenues, we will see how much people love it going forward. It’s a nasty business that only gets worse as the bloom is off the rose, markets are saturated, and it is harder and harder to prop up unreasonable valuations with enough growth in profits.

  3. […] Bob Warfield on Google’s Story That Goog… […]

  4. […] Business, and it will cost them over time to get back out of that penalty box.  Regardless of how well Google Reader may have been doing in terms of revenue and strategic objectives, it was doing what it did for the wrong people to be […]

  5. […] Google’s Story That Google Reader Traffic Declined Is BS When You Put That Traffic Alongside&n… […]

  6. […] Lest you think this is some imaginary scenario, firing 8 million influential users is exactly what Google is doing as it shelves Google Reader in less than a month.  Google is firing the likes of Om Malik, for example, and Seth Godin who says RSS is still the most efficient way of reading blogs.  Google says they’re doing it for lack of traffic, but as I’ve written before, that’s a bogus argument. […]

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