Google is Sunsetting Search



One day back in 2012 the most important topic on the Internet was the unexpected demise of Google Reader.

It was a popular tool to read and share content from blogs by subscribing to their so called feeds.

Why did it matter? It was a sure sign of things to come shining a light on Google’s long term vision.

On that day I wrote this post initially. I asked “when will Google sunset search?”.

It took them a dozen years. Finally in 2024 they are quietly “sunsetting” search and replacing it with AI.

The side-effects of market domination

Indeed Google dominated the market for feed readers just like it dominates the market for

  • search
  • analytics
  • online video.

Mostly geeks know what Reader was about and used it so average people probably didn’t notice. Still

Google Reader was a service millions of people used and even relied on.

For them the announcement of its death was something of a shock.

Most former Google Reader users were frantically looking for alternatives and finding often other volatile online services that vanished sooner or later.

At the end of the day most people flocked to Feedly. I also tried Feedly and use it successfully ever since.

Over the years the service has added many advanced premium features for power users. I have covered it in-depth for a client blog of mine.

The reasoning behind killing a tool millions of people use

Why did Google kill Reader? The official reason is that the interest in RSS feeds and Google Reader was dwindling.

This is of course a self-fulfilling prophecy as Google has been abandoning the open RSS standard step by step over the years

Instead Google was focusing on its closed “walled garden” type of network – Google+.

Most of the sharing features from Google Reader have been moved over to Google+ a few months earlier effectively making it far less useful.

Even the man-power needed to maintain Reader was not there anymore.

The engineers have been relocated to the Google+ team as well. Thus

the “declining” interest in Google Reader was part of a larger plan or strategy.

Google Reader was never making any money anyway. Google is an advertising company as economists say.

They make money by placing ads

  • in front or around search results
  • on third party websites
  • on their own services like Google shopping search (where you have to pay to get included).

As as user you are not the customer. You are the product as your usage data helps them to show you more relevant ads.

By profiling you and your online habits Google allows advertisers to benefits from your private data.

Grabbing markets and monopolizing them

For many lucrative industries like e-commerce or travel Google already dominates its own search results for many years.

Google is replacing them almost completely in the visible area with ads and so called paid inclusion (hidden ads).

Search is declining these days as well, or maybe it’s juts stagnating or not growing.

The market is saturated and Google can’t earn much more by using conventional ads.

Google attempts to open up new revenue sources where it can.  They try to grab new markets. Google is into

  • software
  • hardware
  • mobile
  • social

you name it.

They establish monopolies wherever they can.

Once they dominate a market they can start charging money for usage as people have no alternatives anymore.

  • With each new search algorithm update millions of sites that previously did everything right in Google’s eyes get downgraded or downright penalized. They disappear into obscurity.
  • In industries where Google enters the market the competition is doomed anyway.
  • Even publishers all over the world have to fight Google because it robs them of revenue by making people go to to Google news instead.

It’s about time to cut out the middleman before he cuts you.

Your site might get penalized for no apparent reason any day.

Google might take over your whole market by adding the same product you sell for free until all competition is bankrupt.

What if Google kills actual search?

Google might even discontinue search as we know it and offer paid results instead.

As of now they consider adding AI features as pai feature.

Yet they also show AI Overviews and summaries by default for many search queries now.

There is no need to click through to third party websites. Unless of course they pay for that.

Many people who click Google ads right now don’t even know these are ads and not real unpaid search results.

Or Google might decide to let you pay for their services.

Either they will charge webmasters to get included in their index or they will ask users to pay them to use search.

Of course they will call it something else, like a registration fee for Google Search Console for example.

Or they will offer you an ad free Google search version when you pay.

Google is a not a library. It’s a giant corporation out there to make money.

It’s not a question whether they will discontinue other services.

The question is not if but when will Google “sunset” search and move on to greener pastures? In 2024!

Will you be prepared or shocked? I’m already training for the time after Google since 2012.

Most people already buy their way up the “search results”. So-called Google Partners help them.

Google is your biggest competitor by now as is an answering machine not a search engine anymore.

More resources on the Google Reader death and its ramifications:

  1. Closing Google Reader Sucks For Me, But Is Dangerous For Google
  2. Killing Google Reader is like killing the bees: we’ll all be worse off
  3. Former Google Reader product manager confirms our suspicions: Its demise is all about Google+ – The Next Web
  4. Why is Google killing Google Reader?
  5. Google Reader joins graveyard of dead Google products – Slate Magazine
  6. Building online assets that Google can’t take away – 3 Door Digital
  7. How Google Reader’s Overhaul Betrayed and Irked Its Most Passionate Users – ReadWrite

* Creative Commons image by Thomas Hawk