Published 5 years ago · 2 mins read
2 mins read
Last week – on March 13th – a news spread all over the web: Google was going to shut down its popular RSS reader service, Google Reader, on July 1st. The reason seems to be the “focus” strategy imposed by CEO Larry Page, that aims to put more effort in developing few core products rather than spreading the resources of big-G across a myriad of projects.
It can be argued if shutting down a service with a loyal (while diminishing) user base in favor of a web “social thing” (Google+) that aims to be the 3rd millennium version of 90’s portals (everything in one place) is a brilliant idea. However Google has the full right of not providing anymore a service that was given for free.
It’s not about the application
Google Reader for sure wasn’t the best RSS client out there: its design is a bit dull and plenty of better alternatives exist. I already switched to Feedly for desktop and I’ve been using Flipboard on mobile for quite a long time.
The problem is another: Google Reader is the API that keeps in sync all the RSS clients I’m using. I can login in Flipboard, Reeder or whatever service I like and then add my Reader account to have all my feeds automatically imported. If I want to add a new feed I can do it through the Google account and then finding it across all the platforms I use.
Now, RSS clients – both desktop and mobile – will run on their own API, but every time I’ll have to add (or remove) something from my subscriptions, I’ll need to do it several times – independently – for each application.
Reader was the de-facto standard for RSS subscription, not fruition. I fear we will have to wait a while until something else emerges as the new leader in this role (if anybody knows a service that can be used for this purpose, please put a comment down here)
The social game
Google is betting on social networks as the new – and only – mean of getting information: they’re probably right. I already use a lot Twitter updates to stay up-to-date with people and blogs I also follow through RSS; however I keep going on my Reader to spend time reading and browsing my feeds to stumble upon something interesting (remember serendipitous browsing?).
In the long term, RSS is probably going to disappear and Google move is just an acceleration of this process: Tweets and Status updates are way easier and speedier mean to broadcast and consume content (have you ever seen your mom subscribing to an RSS feed?). However, while confined to a minority of power users, RSS clients deserve their place in the world, at least for a few more years.