Why Shutting Down Google Reader Actually Hurts

I don’t have my copy here, but there is a bit in Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 about the difference building a successful site or business and building a successful platform, or more accurately reaching platform ‘status.’

One creates something others can build upon and around – grow a community.

The other is a sole building in a desert. And when that building doesn’t have a reason to be populated any longer there’s nothing for anyone else to do related to that building and they all leave.

Google Reader wasn’t just another Google service – it was a platform. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and take a look at the main Google Reader “competitors” that are now perking up as if they’ve had a Red Bull – they all integrate and scan your reader to see what you’re reading, of course you can start from scratch, but they assume if you’re doing RSS you’re doing it on Reader.

Run a search in your chosen app store for RSS readers.  See how many of the top readers sync with Google Reader. I don’t have to check – all of the top ones do (and btw – they’ll now pretty much all be out of business).

Even Feedly has put out a statement:

Note 2: if you are a third party developer using the Google Reader API and would like to integrate with Normandy, please send an email to remi@feedly.com. We would love to keep the Google Reader ecosystem alive.

“Google Reader ecosystem.”  Not your data or your favorites or your notes but the ecosystem.  Which is where Google was great – notes, sharing, G+ integration, etc.  But it went beyond http://reader.google.com I could use my chosen interface and use it however I wanted.

For many who are finding themselves more and more on cloud systems shutting down a major OS line would have been less disruptive.

And I do think that’s what the death knell was. For all it’s cool tech cred and 20% time, etc. Google is a business.

When was the last time you clicked an ad in Google Reader?

Or do you even use the actual site?

The official reasons – “usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products” which doesn’t contradict the money issue.

For an impressions based ad company (wait, did you think Google was profitable from being a search engine?) a lack of eyeballs means a lack of data which means it’s easy to tell when it’s not worthwhile to pay for the power the servers use.

Oh – there is a change.org petition to save Google Reader.  I don’t imagine that by itself will do anything, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Rss-igetit image © by IsaacMao

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