Google apparently is gobsmacked by the rage emanating from elite, savvy corners of the net over their sudden and arrogant decision to kill Google Reader, their RSS feed reader.
The corporate surprise adds to the decision itself to paint a picture of a company dangerously adrift from a real understanding of its audience, and the information ecosystem.
Sure, RSS in terms of end users has always been a niche product. However that niche includes media moguls, journalists, bloggers, and zillions of techies. This is a very bad segment of your base to piss off since they are savvy, outspoken, and often are influencers. But Google went ahead and infuriated them anyway, and also just killed their RSS subscription browser extension too. Clearly, Google wants everyone to journey to their walled garden, Google+, and forget about wandering around outside in RSS land. Boy, is Google wrong.
But this group, though small, are some of the web’s most engaged users. They are the people building its pieces and underpinnings, and filling it with content. As The Guardian aptly put it today, killing Reader is like killing the bees. The damage to the ecosystem extends beyond the hundreds of thousands, or millions rather, impacted directly by Google Reader’s death.
The RSS bees do indeed do quite a lot and much depends on them. However, the demise of Google Reader will actually help RSS and the bees since development of next gen RSS readers will ramp up since we no longer have to pay attention to what Google is doing. I’ve already switched to Feedly, a free cloud based RSS reader, which is superior to Reader. It has a modern interface, feeds can be viewed in multiple ways, and social networking is baked into it. Reader has none of these features. Feedly will be adding new features as will many other readers because they care for their users, something Google gives little thought to nowadays.
I use Bufferapp to schedule Tweets and Facebook statuses. They really really care about their users and have proven this multiple times by getting back to me very quickly when I have a question or report a glitch. They are perky, helpful, and I thank them for it.
Ever tried to get tech support on a Google product? Sometimes you can’t even find a way to contact them. This isn’t a function of size. Some very large companies have quite excellent tech support.So maybe Google inadvertently did us all a favor by trying to kill RSS since they made us realize we don’t need them nearly as much as we thought.