Google has always been known for its great April Fools' Day pranks. In fact, it was Google who arguably started the pranking tradition in the tech industry (which in 2013 includes Twitter, Netflix, Hulu and others). All the way back in 2000, Google first pranked users by telling them they had created a new program that allowed users to search with their minds. Google has generally gotten good press for its efforts. But they hit a bump this year.
For one of this year's pranks, Google made a video saying that it was going to shut down YouTube. What was meant to be a lighthearted joke -- over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month, YouTube isn't going anywhere -- turned into a bit of a PR issue. Pretending to kill YouTube seemed to remind many, or at least many who have Twitter accounts, that Google is actually killing Google Reader. Last month, Google upset a whole lot of devoted users when it announced that it is planning to discontinue the RSS reader, the unspoken reason being to focus users on Google+. Just when that fire had died down, Google found a way to reignite it.
RLRT @crackberrykevin For the cost of creating the April Fools YouTube video, Google could have kept Google Reader going another 5 years.
— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) March 31, 2013
The Google treasure map was the best, honouring Cesar Chavez was admirable, but the YouTube joke was unfunny whilst killing @googlereader
— Udayan Tripathi (@udy) April 1, 2013
1. Actually close Google Reader 2. Pretend to shut down YouTube because “pranks” 3. LOL? youtu.be/H542nLTTbu0
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) March 31, 2013
@zdfyrashid Also the YouTube "shutdown." Hah. (And meanwhile, Google Reader users grit their teeth.)
— Nick Kolakowski (@nkolakowski) April 1, 2013
Google Reader's fan base is small but fierce, and many people were upset that Google would joke about shutting a service down when Google had so recently killed their favorite service. Next year, we imagine the various teams within Google who craft pranks (there are many of them) will coordinate a little bit better.