I was one of the many Google reader users that yesterday reacted swearing when the popup shown on the right appeared.
We all got used to Google retiring products, and together with the retirement of Adsense for Feeds it’s the second time I got personally impacted.
In the official “spring cleaning” announcement, different unknown (to me) products are mentioned, and in between the beloved Google Reader is one of my favorite and most used web app.
What I do with it:
- Tracking blogs, news websites, search engines result alerts, Flippa search results.
- Enjoying the great mobile app, where I can star articles that I want to read on the PC later.
- Consolidating multiple feeds into bundles that can be used as source feed for newsletter services and news widgets.
But OK, I adapt to all the situations so I’m not worried about electing a successor and history had teach me that changes are a good thing – read about how the retirement of Adsense for Feeds turned for me into an income increase.
What I’m worried about is the general Google strategy.
Looking backward, this is what they did:
- Made a great, free product subsidized by others big G products.
- Killed almost completely the competition, making Reader the de-facto standard in feed consumption.
- Retired the product.
Looking forward this is what I see:
- Don’t confuse this with the end of RSS. This technology is the building block of many interactions and data transfer across web applications. RSS is not dead!
- Google Reader disappearance will take away a huge number of Feedburner subscribers. Yeah, Google own the main feed distribution service and the main feed reader service, how awesome is that? Surely people will move to another service, but along the way an important percentage of unused account will be closing bringing Feedburner numbers down. At that point… Feedburner can be finally close (I was actually expecting this to be announced yesterday, while I didn’t see Google Reader retirement coming).
- User will part away towards other services, more or less “social network” oriented. My guess is that there will be a bigger push towards Google+ as source of news that can be controlled and influenced – look at your Facebook wall to understand what I mean. Promoted posts are in the stream, have social proof and works better than RSS ads.
- Replacement RSS services might not be free. There will be freemium options at least. Will this be another step towards changing users habit to have great services for free? There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch - Americans know that since 1940s. Advertising money naturally goes towards the most rewarding publishers, and now they seem to be social media. Surely not feeds.
How this affect website flippers?
We’re Webflip Cowboys.
As cowboys, we love the simplicity of Google Reader and the democratic information access it provides: all feeds are born equals! Would you say the same about Facebook content?
As flippers, we’re used to think opportunities and currently dreaming about buying the Google Reader software and subdomain (reader.google.com) and do what Google failed to achieve: turning it into profit.
To flip it, of course.