Google is taking a lot of heat for its decision to scrap the popular Reader RSS feed aggregator, leading many to question why it would pull the plug on such a popular service. It turns out that the answer might have a lot to do with the hidden costs of safeguarding privacy. According to a report from All Things D, an unnamed source says that the closure is at least partly because of Google’s reluctance to build out the staff and infrastructure needed to deal with legal and privacy issues related to the product.
"Unless it's going to get to 100 million users it's not worth doing."
The source says that Google is trying to position the company so that it stops getting stuck in expensive privacy lawsuits, like the $7 million Wi-Fi data-slurping case in the US, by adding dedicated staff to deal with those issues to each of its teams. When the company announced it would be shuttering Reader, the service reportedly didn’t even have a project manager or full-time engineer assigned to it, and it’s said that Google didn’t want to spend the money to build the service out into a tentpole app. And while many longtime users of the service have questioned why Google doesn’t simply sell Reader off to a third party, its deep integration with other Google Apps means it’s apparently easier for the company to just shutter it. So how many users would have made it worthwhile for Google to keep Reader around? Former Reader product manager Nick Baum tells ATD, "my sense is, if it’s a consumer product at Google that’s not making money, unless it’s going to get to 100 million users it’s not worth doing."