Google announced yesterday that it will shut down Reader on July 1. It’s hard to believe it only launched in 2005. It feels like I’ve been dependent on it for much longer. The majority of my browsing begins either directly in Reader or on services supported by Reader. Google created the best RSS reader available and topped all competitors. I will miss it.
On the other hand, Dave Winer isn’t sad to see it go:
I won’t miss it. Never used the damn thing. Didn’t trust the idea of a big company like Google’s interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news. And besides, I didn’t think the mailbox approach to news was right.
There are really no immediate good alternatives, though Lifehacker lists some options. I hope app makers like Reeder, of which I’m a big fan, will step up and replace the service left by Reader’s absence.
But because it was the dominant player it seems odd that Google would kill Reader. It does more than leave a hole in the ecosystem, it essentially wipes it out. Everything from here on will be new. Marco Arment thinks that’s a good thing:
[Google Reader] destroyed the market for desktop RSS clients. . . . We’re finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms for the first time in almost a decade. It may suck in the interim before great alternatives mature and become widely supported, but in the long run, trust me: this is excellent news.
Economist Tyler Cowen wonders what damage this may do to the blogosphere.
Very old blogs may be reevaluated as choices to follow, since we all will have to fill out new feeds all over again. Blogs which post not so frequently will be hurt too, in relative terms as well as absolute. If you know a blog will post frequently, you simply might substitute into site visits. This will also likely hurt blogs with a lot of ads, such as the Forbes blogs which I know, again speaking in relative as well as absolute terms.
For the next few months I will explore and test alternatives. For anyone doing the same, Hacker News will be a good place to look for new developments in the RSS space.