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Home / Features / Google Podcasts is dead – as is my trust in the survival of any Google service

Google Podcasts is dead – as is my trust in the survival of any Google service

With the death of Google Podcasts, space must be in short supply over at Google Graveyard

Gravestone with Google Podcasts logo
Grave image: John Thomas

Google killed another product last week. “It must be Tuesday,” I quipped, on hearing the news. And, pleasingly, it actually was Tuesday when this particular product was shuttered. Amazing! Sometimes, everything just falls into place. Unless you were a fan of Google Podcasts, because Google Podcasts is now dead.

Google Podcasts (2018–2024) follows Google Listen (2009–2012) and Google Play Music (2011–2020) into oblivion. And if you think a trio of podcast players (yes, I’m counting Google Play Music) being killed by one company across a mere 15 years is a problem, you’re absolutely right. But then that’s Google. It has form in this area – and no sense of focus.

The Google lifecycle appears to be that someone gets excited about a shiny new idea, hurls a product into the market, and then stumbles into another Google offering doing much the same thing. Then the Google Borg tires of the once new and shiny thing when it’s old, tarnished and superfluous. Finally, presuming everyone has less memory than a ZX81, Google repeats the pattern, promising this time things will be different.

Death is not the end

Google Reader logo, in a pool of blood
Google Reader: also killed by Google.

Only they won’t be. They never are. If you’ve been around the tech block a few times, you’ll be very aware Google is the scorpion and you are the frog. Or perhaps Google is dozens of scorpions, all fighting each other for the reward of pricking you. Either way, you end up getting stung more times than is entirely reasonable.

My first brush with the Google lifecycle was Google Reader (2005–2013). I loved Google Reader. It was the perfect way to follow online sources. And then Google killed it. Eight years’ service meant nothing when Reader wasn’t bringing in cold, hard cash. And in Reader’s wake, there wasn’t even a replacement – just a gaping hole where it used to be. The lesson? Don’t get too attached and don’t rely on anything Google makes.

So I played it cool with Google Buzz (2010–2011), Google+ (2011–2019) and Google Hangouts (2013–2022), when certain friends in tech raved about each in turn, convinced it would be the next big thing. I looked on suspiciously at Google Stadia (2019–2023), reasoning Microsoft cared about gaming, whereas Google would nonchalantly toss its efforts aside, like a broken old Commodore 64. As for Google Play Music (2011–2020), just for the music rather than podcasts? No thanks. For me, it was Spotify and Apple Music all the way.

Shake it up

YouTube Music icon, in shades, hiding
YouTube Music’s best bet for survival in a year or two, once Google inevitably tires of it.

But all this is maddening for another reason: Google has the potential for brilliance. In the podcasts space alone, Google could have unleashed disruption and innovation like no-one else, combining its skills in infrastructure, discovery, information provision and app design. Instead, Google Podcasts is dead and trust in the longevity of Google services is further eroded.

So what’s next? At least with podcasts, there are alternatives for listing to your favourite shows. But probably avoid Google’s suggestion: YouTube. It wants you listening to podcasts in YouTube Music or even watching them on YouTube itself – because podcasts are known for visual spectacle, and YouTube for mobile’s lack of background playback unless you subscribe is a much-loved feature.

And what happens when Google gets bored of even these things – and others? Eventually, it’ll be just you and the YouTube Borg. A monolithic tech stew of video, music and podcasts. Email and messaging replaced by comment threads. Docs turned into AI videos helmed by Google robots. 

Meanwhile, Elon Musk will look on, fuming that Google cobbled together his hallowed ‘everything’ app entirely by accident. But he needn’t worry: chances are Google will shut it all down in a few months anyway.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

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