It’s Not Just Reader: Google Kills Chrome RSS Add-On Too
Last week Google announced it is shutting down its popular — but apparently not popular enough — RSS reader, Google Reader. In what looks like a broader move away from RSS, the company has also killed off its RSS extension for Chrome, and marked a longstanding bug requesting that the extension become a native part of Chrome as “Won’t Fix.”
Add it all up and it certainly looks like Google wants to not just shut down an unprofitable service, but to kill off its support for RSS entirely.
RSS is an open format that offers an easy way to keep track of news and get updates from your favorite sites without having to visit two dozen different web pages everyday. While it never gained much traction with mainstream audiences, RSS remains popular with news junkies and is an integral part of the web, providing the “glue” behind many popular news apps like Flipboard or Pulse.
Google’s RSS extension for Chrome made it easy to discover and subscribe to RSS feeds by displaying an icon in the URL bar of any page that offered a feed. Clicking the icon would then give users a variety of ways to subscribe to the feed — one of which was Google Reader.
Fortunately there are several alternatives for those previously relying on Google’s homegrown RSS extension. Google Operating System’s Alex Chitu points readers to two possible replacements, one of which appears to be a fork of the original add-on.
Is the disappearing Chrome extension, closed bug report and end of life for Google Reader all part of a conspiracy to kill off Google’s support for RSS? Possibly.
But if you follow the discussion around the bug/request for RSS in Chrome it’s clear that there was never any support for the idea with in Google. Closing the bug was most likely a bit of house cleaning.
It’s also possible that the RSS extension was removed from the Chrome Web Store simply because it would potentially drive traffic to the soon-to-be-closed Google Reader.
That said, it’s clear Google has no love for RSS and apparently no love for other open web tools, like the CalDav format, which was also dropped as part of the company’s Spring cleaning. Instead Google is encouraging developers to use Google Calendar’s proprietary sync tools (there is a whitelist you can apply for if “the Calendar API won’t work for you” ).
Trying to move users from RSS to Google+ and from CalDav to Google Calendar may not be part of any vast conspiracy, but you don’t need a tinfoil hat to recognize that the days of Google as a champion of open web technologies are over.