In a little over a week, Google Reader will be shutting its doors for good, leaving me and thousands of others scrambling to find a replacement RSS reader.
Like many others, I was pretty annoyed when I first heard the news that Google Reader would be shutting down, but as this article from Google Operating System points out, Google Reader’s closure could actually be a good thing for the future development of RSS.
Google Reader hasn’t been updated at all since 2010, and the popularity of RSS has been in steady decline since 2009. With the pending closure of Google Reader, a number of companies have stepped up to fill the gap left by Google, the most notable being Digg, who is planning on releasing a reader next week, and Facebook, which is rumored to be building their own reader.
This is very exciting, since both Digg and Facebook could take RSS reading, and content discovery in general, in innovative new directions. It’s also lit a fire under the ass of Feedly, and other RSS readers to improve their offerings and capture new users.
Beyond the development of new RSS readers, the closure of Google Reader will mean that blogs could lose millions of readers who had been subscribed to their blogs via RSS. While this is obviously bad for the websites who invested years in gathering subscriptions, it also opens the door to newer blogs to compete against more established players. In every change, there lies opportunity for those who are observant enough to take it.
The only thing I don’t understand is why Google would shut down Reader in the first place. It may not have as many users as its other services, but many of the most influential people on the web use Google Reader, and the content discovery platform would seem like an ideal match for Google+, which is already poised to overtake Facebook in sharing by 2016. That seems like a lost opportunity for Google, one that Digg & Facebook are looking to capitalize on.