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September 11, 2010

Bloglines to Be Discontinued

Bloglines, one of the most popular web-based feed readers, will no longer be available after September 30th. InterActiveCorp, the company that acquired the service in 2005, also owns the search engine Ask.com.
When we originally acquired Bloglines in 2005, RSS was in its infancy. The concept of "push" versus "search" around information consumption had become very real, and we were bullish about the opportunity Bloglines presented for our users. 
 
Flash forward to 2010. The Internet has undergone a major evolution. The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. As Steve Gillmor pointed out in TechCrunch last year, being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow. Today RSS is the enabling technology – the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. As a result, RSS aggregator usage has slowed significantly, and Bloglines isn't the only service to feel the impact. The writing is on the wall.



Most Bloglines users will probably migrate to Google Reader, which is now the most popular web-based feed reader. Unfortunately, Google Reader is still a niche service and this won't change in the future, so Google will eventually discontinue it. Instead of subscribing to feeds, people prefer to subscribe to other people. Google Buzz, Google Me and other social services will use Google Reader's back-end, while offering a people-centric experience.

Here's the Google Trends chart for RSS:

37 comments:

  1. I hope this doesn't indicate that Google may shut down Google Reader in the future, as you predict. I enjoy using Facebook to see what my friends are reading but my social sphere will never give me direct access to my favorite sources as they update. For me at least, Google Reader has replaced newspapers, magazines, and most of my bookmarks. I'd hate to be limited only to articles my friends post, because the interestingness usefulness any given article is not directly predicted by its popularity.

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  2. I completely disagree that Google Reader will be discontinued in the future unless some other service or mechanism EFFECTIVELY takes the place of news/blog aggregation/dissemination, and Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, et. al do NOT comprehensively aggregate/disseminate.

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  3. Google Reader is my homepage and is always in a pinned browser tab. And because of some social network elements, such as likes, it is a great source of user profiling for Google, in order to deliver relevant ads. I don't believe it can ever be closed.

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  4. I sincerely hope that Google will not decide to get rid of Google reader. I still look at newspaper sites occasionally but I get all of my tech news via RSS feeds along with a great deal of other information. The ability to go to Google reader from any computer is a huge plus for me. The privacy problems with Facebook are too great for me to even think about using it to get/post information. Although I have an account, I rarely use it since most of what people post is inane. Ditto for Twitter. The ability to star particularly good articles for later reference is another big plus in Google Reader. Please don't take Google Reader away from those of us who are loyal and productive users!

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  5. If google decides to shutdown reader, they should automatically export the feeds to what-ever social site is the be used by automatically following all those in Google Me or equivalent.

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  6. Funny thing is that I started using my Bloglines account last month again, after it had been on hiatus for a few years... Seems Google Reader is the next choice then. A niche service is probably due to people using desktop or other kinds of local apps for delivering RSS.

    I consider statements like "consuming this information has become a social experience" and "Instead of subscribing to feeds, people prefer to subscribe to other people" utter bullshit. It's like saying "Instead of eating, people now prefer to cut wood". Or "We decided to stop publishing newspapers and broadcasting TV and radio programs, because people will now use word of mouth for spreading news".

    RSS and/or subscriptions is one thing, and communicating with friends or other people is another. They may be occasionally related, but all in all they have their very own specific purposes.

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  7. Do these guys really believe that news is dead? If RSS closes, I'll have search for news (Google News is still cr*p). And I STILL can't get news searches to default to 'latest' (ie NEWS!).

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  8. Twitter and Facebook have their place, but they have a number of disadvantages when it comes to RSS feeds. In addition, Twitter and Facebook are blocked at my office, so I cannot use them even if I wanted to use them there.

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  9. Google still has interest in feeds.
    Google Reader Play and pubsubhubbub for example. They won't abandon it in near future.

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  10. Bloglines is dead because bloglines sucked.

    They could not keep their database up for more than about two hours and eventually annoyed enough people that we switched to Google Reader.

    Buzz/Twitter/... take over Reader?

    Magic 8 Ball says: "Don't pull my dick"

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  11. Google Reader is going nowhere.
    And I agree with the Magic 8 Ball :)

    Bloglines was poorly managed and that is why it failed.
    I used it for years myself but eventually got sick
    of the amateur sloppy management.

    Bloglines failure in no way an omen
    of RSS readers being supplanted
    by Twitter/Facebook/etc.

    RSS is the best way to manage reading
    from multiple sources and nothing
    else out there comes close.

    For those addicted to their "friends"
    comings and goings reading is
    not exactly necessary.

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  12. What a nightmare that would be. Indicate the sources you want to recieve updates from them > read whatever some people you know think is fun.

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  13. Long live Google Reader!!! I use a lot of other Google services, and the fact that I get my updates through Google makes complete sense. I would never dream of my friends replacing my RSS feeds, no way whatsoever.

    Now for all you social people, I even get my social updates from Facebook/Twitter through a feed, and e-mail in my own posts/replies as comments come in. Theres just no reason to be on social networks all day. Its very counter productive. I wants news fast, as it comes in, and the ability to go over it later, anytime, anywhere, with nothing more than a web browser.

    The only time I ever login to a social service is to post a comment on something I haven't commented on yet. This is quite annoying, I'm hoping Facebook well let us add our Google Voice numbers to mobile setup in the future.

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  14. Who cares? I could never figure out how to play FarmVille in Bloglines.

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  15. Without Google Reader, chances are a would never have seen this post anyway.

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  16. Google Reader will be discontinued? That's such a ridiculous prediction... so ridiculous that I just removed your blog from my Google Reader!

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  17. As others have commented, RSS readers are what brings me to this blog. I have no social relationship to this blog's author, nor the other commenters and would be highly unlikely to "friend" them or become "fans" of them. If there were no easy way to keep up with this blog outside of a social network, it would drop off my radar completely.

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  18. Haha I can't believe u said greader would be discontinued. I too was thinking that I wouldn't read this w/o it. What's so great about bloglines anyway? Not that much diff, and greader is prettier, and integrates with my other stuff, email, cal etc. I used to use bloglines, but I like having one less account for something especially when there's nothing that bloglines had to offer vs google reader

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  19. I have to agree to what was said by others here. I like to read what my friends have shared but I am a different individual with different interests. RSS readers such as Google Reader solve that for me and replace the variety of magazines I would have to buy or websites bookmarks I would have to visit manually in order to keep myself up to date. Twitter or Facebook just don't cut it for me unless they find a way to push content my way like an RSS reader does. Like someone above said, I prefer to have Google Reader for my actual info and Facebook and Twitter for my on-line social sphere.

    So if Google Reader had to go I'd have to look for an alternative. Remember folks popularity does not equal content. Some people like me don't care what Mr/Mrs Popular just read or did. That is not what I am all about.

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  20. Bloglines was my first RSS reader, but I ended up with Google Reader, and I hope it will stay around, even improve. What's next? Killing off Blogger?

    The trend for every app to have a social media focus is beginning to grate on me. Does *everything* have to be social?

    How are we to keep up with blogs and news without some kind of efficient, comprehensive reader? Facebook and Twitter--which seem to be the model for everything now--are not good tools for this function.

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  21. Yes, admit you were wrong and did not know what you were talking about!

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  22. Without google reader I would not have seen this post...

    Careful what you wish for.

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  23. I use bloglines and am sorry to have it go away. Perhap some people are satisfied to hook up to Facebook or twitter to find out what is going on in the world, but I suspect many find that to be pretty ridiculous.
    I am now using Google Reader - and it is a royal pain in the back side. I guess I will just bookmark the blogs I follow daily. I lived without bloglines for many years, life goes on - the masters of the universe who run these services are shortsighted morons.

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  24. You just gave me a heart attack!!! I love Google Reader and I read your post through Google Reader! Come on... be nice when you predict stuff man :)

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  25. Oh, and I even use GReader to watch most stuff off Hulu, its literaly become my television/DVR too. I don't foresee a need for cable in my place.

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  26. It's seems that a lot of people (like me) access this site through Google Reader. Predicting it's death doesn't seems very smart.

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  27. I used and recommended Bloglines for quite a while until they started the Picture Wall feature that displayed a random set of publicly posted pictures. Often these pics were pornographic and NSFW and as I was mostly dealing with K-12 teachers I couldn't use it or recommend it anymore. Many other people I know were in a similar position. Lots of people complained and they just said suck it up. I'd suggest that the failure of Bloglines dates from that decision.
    I use Google reader and sometimes I use Feedly if I'm working in Firefox (If Zotero was available in Chrome I would probably not use FF)
    Bloglines is done but RRS is far from done.

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  28. it really does not matter how search world is getting stronger, or subscribing to "people" will be important: there are not good reasons to shut-down a feed-reader. the philosophy and usage of feed reader is not something to be compared to search: these are two different categories. for example, i don't "search" for this blog's posts: I wait for them to come to me. if they don't come, I'll never read the posts. feed readers can be shutdown only when blogging system gets useless.
    about bloglines: they simply did not have enough users to keep it up. most of them are probably switched to goder (Google reader)

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  29. I hope GOOGLE doesn't discontinue Google Reader in the future. I have loved it from it's inception and it would be a real pain to surf the Net without it

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  30. I am a google reader user. The reason one might think that its a niche service and it wont change in the future is because its not advertised correctly. I see RSS readers as an efficient way of browsing the net. If people centric view/real time feed is what is missing then enhancing google reader should help.

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  31. Well, that was not completely unexpected.

    http://arminus.darktech.org/blog/2008/12/signs-that-bloglines-is-fucked.php

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  32. Google Reader is incredibly useful. I hope someone from Google gets the message.

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  33. In what way is Google Reader a "niche service"? Surely the "niche" just got a whole lot bigger?

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  34. Google's response: http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2010/09/welcome-and-look-back.html


    I don't think Reader is going anywhere ... nice to stir up some debate though :)

    Alex, I'd be interested to know if you had any trend or insight that make you think Reader might be on it's way out someday other than the declining search volume for rss?

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  35. Google Reader might be the only reason I stick with a google account (though migrating the e-mail would take some time)... but then again, i was agog at Wave and see what happened!
    Enzo

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  36. I will survive :) RSS will survive too. But the future lies in mixing RSS feeds with social peers, like favit.com is doing :)

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