Posted March 25, 2013 8:42 am by with 3 comments

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google-logo1So for all of the conspiracy theories surroundings Google’s decision to shutter its popular (well, popular is a relative measurement isn’t it) Reader one of the main reasons could be a very practical one: the cost of privacy.

According to report from All Things D

Under CEO Larry Page, Google has made a practice of “spring cleaning” throughout all the seasons so it can narrow its focus. Reader was just a another bullet point on the latest closure list.

But the shutdown wasn’t just a matter of company culture and bigger priorities, sources said. Google is also trying to better orient itself so that it stops getting into trouble with repeated missteps around compliance issues, particularly privacy.

That means every team needs to have people dedicated to dealing with these compliance and privacy issues — lawyers, policy experts, etc. Google didn’t even have a product manager or full-time engineer responsible for Reader when it was killed, so the company didn’t want to add in the additional infrastructure and staff, the sources said.

This is the reality of business in general but more specifically anything in the online world that keeps making the claim to advertisers that the people using a service are being tracked and tagged to the nth degree. People want convenience but when they think their privacy is being trampled they can get rather litigious.

No company wants to invite legal issues. Every company has to deal with them but to have a product or service that could possibly cost you more than it could ever make AND impact the rest of the company that is revenue generating is not acceptable to a thinking business person.

Sure the shrill cry of the tech world’s ‘influencers’ who think they are market makers with public opinion (Really? You need to step back and look at just how ‘technical’ the rest of the world is in 2013) is loud and real but Google is smart enough not to bow to noise. Ever since Larry Page took over the day to day reigns of the company Google seems to be based in solid, cold-hard reality more often than not. It’s kind of refreshing really.

So how do you feel about this reason for Google Reader being taken down as of July 1, 2013? Does it make sense? Do you still think it’s a mistake? Do you care if Google’s CYA efforts impact their business at the expense of your ability to do yet another thing for free through them?

So many questions. Do you have any answers?

  • MrAndrewJ

    I’m not angry about Reader closing. Google closes services, and they have my “thanks” for the years of a free service that fit my needs.

    I’m concerned more about the internal shift at Google. That much feels like a victory for bureaucrats, career “watchdogs” and special interests. I’m concerned this victory gives them more power over businesses first and consumers by way of the businesses. Chances seem slim that it will stop at bullying Google out of offering free services.

  • Frank, I don’t think it was Privacy. It may come down to Copyright.

    Google Reader offered for free what Meltwater charges clients for. Not as exhaustive, but a lot of the same potential litigants.

    I’m wondering if Google saw the AP/Meltwater verdict coming, and decided to get its deep pockets out of the line of fire, considering it is a non-revenue product.

  • JR Oakes

    I think Google sees more value in a future of following authors (Google+) than following websites. If a site offers and RSS feed, they are saying, “Here syndicate my content”. Its in the name. Google Reader kept people off Google+