Today it was announced that Google will be shutting down its online RSS-feed aggregator, Google Reader. Ironically, I first found out about the announcement through Google Reader as I am subscribed to the Official Google Blog through it.
To say that I am disappointed with this news is an understatement. Along with Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Reader is one of three Google products that I use all day, every day.
After trying to find a suitable RSS aggregator almost seven years ago, I eventually settled on Google Reader and have been using it every day I've been on the internet since.
Following me airing my devastation at the announcement to Facebook this morning, I've come to the realisation that this is probably marking the end of my almost decade-long affinity for Google and its products and services. This feeling had started with Google recently withdrawing the free Google Apps offering, and it's been finished off by this announcement today.
Google's justification is that "usage has declined", but I would really be surprised if more people actively used Google+ than Reader on a daily basis. As a relatively simple RSS aggregator, I wouldn't imagine it would use much in the way of resources and developer or management time, so this really is a strange decision.
Most speculation around the internet today has suggested it's somehow related to Google focusing on trying to get people to use Google+. Although most point to the view of social media superseding RSS, it is my opinion that RSS aggregators and social media are two very distinct services with two very different uses, although they do feed into each other. Services like Facebook and Twitter have largely taken over the 'social' part of an RSS aggregator, but the main function of Google Reader in being an "inbox for the web" (Google's own words), is still very useful and applicable today regardless of social media.
The other much smaller RSS aggregator service providers are currently getting hammered with traffic as people like myself are searching for alternatives. I think it'll be at least a few days before things settle down so I can have a proper look around.
I think that it is going to be a little hard to find something that will replace Reader's simplicity and ubiquitousness across both the desktop and mobile. Most other services are either on one platform or another, or are very different beings from what Google Reader is (they had to be considering Reader's existence!); any suggestions are welcome!
Just as I remember starting with Google Reader all those years ago, I think I'll remember today as the day when my affinity for Google came to an end. Part of me thinks this isn't a bad thing; it's probably time I stop relying on one company as centre of my online life.