Almost three hundred thousands news I’ve read since I started using Google Reader in November 2008. That’s a lot. Reader helped me to have an organized look at what interested me, be it local news, tech blogs, or niche sites. Interestingly, just a few days before Google announced to shut down the service in the near future, I myself became tired of it and decided to try something different.
Scream & Shout
There’s been lots and lots of rumbling about Google’s announcement to shut down the popular service, and although for many the Google Reader has been a tool that’s been used extensively every single day for years, it’s also a chance of evaluating alternatives.
Personally, I stopped using Google Reader the end of January as I’ve felt that all the news sources and blogs that have gathered over the years created a feeling of always being to late on what’s going on. I just had to check for updates over and over. In the end, I’ve always been very well informed, but I simply didn’t want to spent so much time on trying to be up to date, often seeing (and skipping) the same news. I ended up evaluating several alternatives but got stuck with Google Currents in the end, as it offers a visually appealing way to consume a modest amount of daily news within a short period of time and is ideal for commuting.
“Rich Site Summary” just isn’t sexy on its own, not matter how great the possibilities. In the end, its all about the news itself.
If you ask someone who is tech savvy and likes to be up to date what RSS means or what is does, I assume most of them would simply shrug. RSS has been an awesome tool for people, but it never gained mainstream acceptance out of the tech crowd. “Rich Site Summary” just isn’t sexy on its own, not matter how great the possibilities. In the end, its all about the news itself. While the reader was the tool for power users that had to catch up with up to hundreds of news sources, it was way more replaceable for people that would just like to catch up with some news sources and had the knowledge on how to import feeds into the reader.
Another debate that’s going on right now is the observation about the traffic and the leads generated by Google Reader compared to Google+. Alhtough this might seem true at first, it’s only part of the story. When comparing these two, we’re talking about two very different products in completely different phases of their lifecycles.
While Google+ might not generate nearly as much traffic as the Google Reader, this traffic won’t simply vanish once Google Reader shuts down, but shift. People still want to be informed, be it power users or casual mainstream news readers. The traffic will move as people move to other services.
The traffic won’t vanish, but shift.
Feedly gained almost 500.000 new users that moved over from Google Reader within a few days. Flipboard is being installed as a stock app on many Samsung smartphones and has gained a broad audience, and this doesn’t include links refereed by other services such as Facebook or Twitter. Surely within the remaining lifespan of Google Reader, new services will be created that’ll get the job done for most people, so there’s not shortage of alternatives to be afraid of. Two in house alternatives are already up and running, one being Google Currents, which aims to offers a magazine like experience based on many popular news sources, the other being organizing news sources as circles in Google+.
Besides these services, there are many ways to get similar features to Google Reader, and many of them have already managed to become accessible to a mainstream audience by offering visually appealing apps that are easy to setup and manage, while RSS has always involved some knowledge on how to add feeds.
The greatest chance no matter what service one may chose is the “spring cleaning” of removing old blogs, redundant news sources and everything else that’s been collected over the years and rather have a basket of old and new, hand selected – and most important – relevant news sources.
Don’t mourn, but embrace what’s ahead
In this regard, I do prefer the future and what’s lying ahead way more than mourning the death of a product that many people – including me – loved to use in the past. And if one thing is for sure it’s that Google will itself offers alternatives to keep people in their ecosystem, for both power and casual users.