Killing Google Reader

:: Google, RSS, Atom

Last night I learned the news that Google is killing Google Reader July 1.

This morning I’m feeling like this.

Google killed feed readers

Google Reader was so good that it sucked all the oxygen out of the market for feed readers, especially in the form of desktop apps. Since then, innovation in this area has stagnated.

Glass half full, this could prompt a flurry of activity and interesting new options.

Google Reader, the service

At the same time, Google Reader became a service upon which many other apps and services depended, and with which they synchronized.

Suddenly they have to scramble to do something else—or decide to kill their projects, too. Like FeedDemon just announced.

Glass half empty, there will be more of this and it will make the concept of RSS and Atom feeds weaker, not stronger.

Reeder for Mac: Alternative?

Last night I tried Reeder for Mac. On the plus side, it can work quite similarly to Google Reader. Out of the box you can use shortcut keys like J and K to navigate within a feed. I changed its other defaults to make it work even closer to GReader: SHIFT+J and SHIFT+K to navigate between feeds, and V to open the original page in a real browser.

Although it will take time to adjust, it might be fine.

A couple caveats:

  • It’s not free. (Although $4.99 seems pretty reasonable for what it does. Especially if you care enough to get mad about Google Reader going away.)

  • It’s not in the browser. It just feels weird to me to juggle two different apps. Could/should this a reader built into the browser as an extension for Chrome or Firefox?

  • If you’re using Chrome OS, what the hell do you do? If I had just bought an expensive Chromebook Pixel, I’d be pretty upset today. Suddenly killing useful web apps doesn’t help Google make the case for web apps.

Lifehacker has a post about more alternatives.

Google’s relationship with tech press and bloggers

I remember the era around 2005, when LifeHacker was writing about Gmail and Google Reader. Here were these cool new web apps, more powerful than you might have guessed. And here were all these geeks eagerly embracing them.

I suspect this played a big role in Google’s generally positive image and mindshare.

Something like Google Reader is particularly useful and appealing to precisely the kind of people who write about the tech industry. I’m curious what effect this will have—when Google takes away a key part of those folks’ daily lives, and effectively gives them the finger. Will this turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish?

Summary

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts. I hope we get the glass-half-full version.