I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit upset today when I heard that Google was closing down Google Reader along with a few of their other services. Reader is really the only one of those services that I care about though. While I’ve seen a lot of people blogging about how sad they are to lose Google Reader, I don’t feel exactly the same as a lot of them.
First off, I was never a user of Google’s web version of Reader. I only used the service to sync my feeds across the 3rd party RSS feed readers that I have on my Macs, PCs, iPhone and iPad. On top of that, I reluctantly used Google Reader even for syncing. I prefer to keep my RSS feeds out of Google because they know way too much about everyone to begin with and I didn’t really want to add to that pool of information further. That’s why I used Newsgator’s syncing service to sync between NetNewsWire on my Mac and various apps on my iPhone. At least I did until August 2009. That’s when Newsgator shutdown their synching service and started using Google Reader as the backend service for syncing their RSS feed readers. I did some extensive searching at that time and the only option that delivered a syncing ability similar to Newsgator was Google Reader. So, I switched. For the most part, Reader worked, but I was still uneasy with how Google had taken over the RSS feed syncing market.
Now, less than four years later, Google is tossing the service away with three months for people to find an alternative. I would have preferred that they give us until end of the year, so that some similar service could both step in (which they already have) and shore up their backends (which they haven’t had time to do yet), but nobody at Google is listening to me. This will be painful for RSS lovers in the short run, but in the long run, this is a good thing. (And Marco Arment of Instapaper agrees with that last statement.)
Google has done less than nothing with Reader over the past few years. By eliminating themselves as the dominant force, Google is allowing more innovative competitors to come in, fill the gap and add some shiny new features. And hopefully some new users will start using RSS after all the news about Google Reader’s demise brings attention to the new contenders and the new value propositions being built around RSS. For now, I need to decide what service I’ll be switching to. I’m more annoyed with the extra research than sad at the outcome. However, I am excited to see what springs up, so that my feeds can live on inside a better service that I’ll enjoy more in the future.