Brian Shih, who previously worked on Google Reader:
Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.
Prior to this redesign, I used Google Reader (the website) as my primary RSS reader. I lasted about two days with the new design before jumping ship. (NetNewsWire is very good. I should have switched earlier.)
I can come up with these possible explanations for the redesign:
- The designers just aren’t very good. (Possible.)
- The designers don’t use Google Reader. (Likely.)
- The designers are prioritizing Google+’s goals over everything else. (Very likely.)
Google’s current “bet everything on social now because we missed the boat” movement feels a lot like Microsoft’s “bet everything on the internet because we missed the boat” movement in 1997. Remember how they wedged all sorts of internet-like functions into Windows 98, like Channels and Active Desktop? Those worked well and made Windows better, right?
It turns out that Microsoft has always been a money-losing also-ran at best with web services, but it doesn’t really matter, since their core business (Windows, Office, Exchange) has done well the entire time and will probably do well for the foreseeable future.
Google’s leadership seems to be paranoid about its continued relevance if it doesn’t make it big in social networking. But they’re showing that they’re willing to harm their other products to boost their social product. Not only does that seem avoidable, but I don’t think they need to be as worried about Facebook as they seem to be.