Google has announced it will shutter its RSS service, Reader, on July 1st after several years of ignominious uncertainty. In a blog post yesterday, the team claimed that, “while the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.”
For millions of users who depend on Google Reader every day, this declining user base is largely irrelevant; we need our Google Reader. But there are other services available — Feedly, Flipboard and NewsBlur come to mind — that have moved news and media consumption into the new decade. People largely find the text-heavy layout difficult to abide in a world of pictures, easy-reading fonts and mobile apps.
Those mobile apps, though, are the remaining lifeblood of Google Reader. I use Press for Android and Reeder for iOS every day; those are the tools I use to turn text-heavy Google Reader into beautiful, manageable feeds.
Google has poked the bear with this announcement: thousands of users took to the social networks and wrote blog posts voicing their distress over Reader’s closure. This is unlikely to sway Google either way — Reader needs to go, it’s true — but there are enormous opportunities for new entrants to the market here. Feedly has already promised its own Reader API clone, which will ensure a smooth transition.
Update: people seem to be interpreting this post as an endorsement for the shutting down of Google Reader. I do not support the move in general, but believe that since Google has removed the majority of its engineering team from the project, Reader should die a clean death than waste away. It will also provide competitors the opportunity to build upon what made Reader great in the first place; Digg has committed to building a Reader API that improves upon the original.