Sat, 16 Mar 2013
Goodbye Google Reader

Lots of people moaning about this and I have to add my voice.

Like many people, I was very disappointed this week when Google announced that their Reader RSS feed reader app will be killed in a few months. I use it on a daily basis, both on my desktop and on my Nexus7 tablet.

I like the fact that it has a simple, plain web interface and it syncs to all my devices (desktop and tablet). There are few glitzy features, and the "social" aspects are easily ignored or hidden.

I don't think much of the reasons Google state on their official blog :

usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience

I hear talk of a "declining" usage but I've never seen numbers. Are there any? Usage seems pretty high given the strength of the reaction to the closure. I also can't see why "resource" would play a big part. How much resource did Reader cost? Not much as far as I understand, and if they mean a recommendations team then why not just reassign and remove this part of the product? According to Chris Wetherell, an "early creator of Google Reader" interviewed at GigaOm :

In addition, Google had a separate recommendations team fine-tuning Google Reader, and those people don’t come in cheap.

This decision has highlighted the problem of "cloud" based apps and services again. Whoever provides them can change or delete them unilaterally. This is especially true of the free apps and services like Reader. Can this sort of thing be considered a little bit evil?

Addendum

Reader is vanishing at the start of July, so to try and figure out a half-way decent replacement, I'm going to try and live without it from now. It will be hard getting used to something new so I might as well get started.

At the moment, I'm trying the Firefox extension Brief. It's very promising.

On the tablet, things are harder. Firefox does not have/use the same extensions. I have not used it much yet, but will try RSS Demon.

I've considered some of the self-hosted options (e.g. Fever, Tiny Tiny RSS) but I'm not sure I want to run a public PHP application just now).