Google recently announced a second round of “spring cleaning”, shutting down a number of older features and services. As mentioned in their blog post on the subject, they have now closed 70 such products in the last two years. One of the more noteworthy items on the closure list is Google Reader, the once popular web feed aggregator which purportedly allows users to stay up to date with their favorite websites and blogs all in one place. While Google recognizes that there is a loyal group of Reader users, the devotion is apparently not enough to overcome the declining usage and they will officially retire the product on July 1, 2013.
As expected, the reaction from the aforementioned loyal user base has been loud and negative, with more than 40,000 users signing a petition urging Google to reconsider. Whether Google has a change of heart remains to be seen, but for now they seem content with focusing on fewer products while phasing out some of their older technology. To classify Google Reader as “old” is of course relative considering the application was first introduced in 2005, but in today’s fast-moving tech world it is probably more appropriate to measure things in dog years (just think, web dinosaur YouTube first launched in 2005 as well¹).
Google’s spring cleaning begs the question of why most financial institutions can’t bear to part with old products and technology in a similar manner. Ok, maybe we don’t have 70 products or services to sunset, but surely there are some things that we can live without, right? Can you retire services such as VRU (voice response unit)? How about paper statements? What about underperforming branches? Are you processing checks and balancing teller drawers the same way as you did 20 years ago?continue reading »