Could Google spin off Reader?

Like many others, I’ve been having trouble with Google Reader this morning. TechCrunch is reporting widespread issues today:

“Google Reader, the RSS feed-reading service Google has long since benignly abandoned, has gone completely mad, and Google has yet to acknowledge the problem even as it heads into its second day of unusability. Users are reporting inaccurate read and unread counts, the reappearance of thousands of old, unread items as new, and, in some cases, the return of feeds users had previously unsubscribed to.”

While in the short run I hope this is a temporary problem, and that Google Reader will be fixed, the longer-term issue of Google not investing in Reader anymore looms large.

The service may be a money-sink for Google, and may not align well with their corporate priorities, but it is hugely popular among programmers and techies, and is relied on as core infrastructure for countless applications that sync feeds and read/unread status across mobile devices and desktop readers.

There is at least one paid third party alternative available in NewsBlur, and it has an API (which is not interoperable with the Google Reader API). I don’t know how successful they are so far, but there’s definitely a need for at least one stable web-based feed reader with a sync API.

My question is this: Could Google spin off Reader into a new company?

I don’t know if it’s even technically possible given that it probably leverages many internal services and technologies that are proprietary to Google.

And even if it were technically possible, are there any business reasons why Google couldn’t do this?

I don’t know if any Googlers are listening on this frequency, but if they are, I would hope they might consider it.

Brent adds to the conversation: RSS Sync Apocalypse Preview [added 3/14]

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