I’m in a panic. I’ve been using Google Reader as my primary source of news since 2007. I love its lean interface, how it syncs seamlessly across all my devices. Nothing compares to it when I need my industrial-strength firehose of information, and the almighty Google is killing it. The thing about Reader is that nobody talks about it because it’s so damn perfect, it does exactly what you want in a compact form that allows for a quick perusal of hundreds of news sources at a glance with dead-easy sharing. While lots of sites only offer short bits of their content, many still offer their full articles in their RSS feeds… which takes away traffic from the full pages containing ads, from which Google makes most of its revenue. Traffic, or audience, is the currency of the digital advertising world and the search giant is one of its biggest players through AdWords and DoubleClick. This isn’t about Reader usage, it’s about killing the entire API upon which so many apps rely on, such as FlipBoard because RSS is threatening their ad revenue.
The laconic announcement on Google’s Official Blog hammers a cold blow to my most used piece of the web:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
The Google Reader Blog note from the developer is a little less business-cold (always appreciated):
We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Reader (the actual date is July 1, 2013). We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too.
Only Google knows the real number of users, but the uproar is already quite vocal on every piece of social media out there. A petition is raking in signatures from thousands of outraged and desperate netizens who suddenly don’t know how to browse anymore! Reader is too good and I plead guilty to using it out of my information addiction, here’s the evidence from my very own Trends:
Since April 16, 2007 you have read a total of 282,433 items.
Ouch. That’s a lot of stuff I’m gonna have to learn to read differently, so what are the choices? Feedly and Netvibes are currently crumbling under the assault of panicked Reader aficionados trying to find a replacement solution, with the former having announced their intention to be a drop-in replacement for Google Reader and the latter requiring a small monthly payment in order to manage more than 64 feeds. I’m reading things about other online RSS readers such as The Old Reader, NewsBlur and other initiatives but have yet to check them out. Count on me to report on my findings.