Small business opportunity, franchise and other small business owners who like to keep track of the latest news and information on their favorite websites using Google Reader will need to start looking for other options come July 1, 2013. The company announced just yesterday that it is shutting down its RSS (Really Simple Syndication) service as part of an ongoing effort to streamline operations and focus on more popular features and services.
Citing the complex nature of today’s computing environment, Google’s official blog post announcing the decision said, “It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact.”
Speaking of impact, reaction to the imminent demise of Google Reader has been nothing if not swift. Today’s blogs are awash with commentary.
For Forbes column contributor Alex Kantrowitz, Google’s decision is a “sobering reminder” that while we are the consumers of today’s technology, we can never be too comfortable. It isn’t ours. “No matter how much work we put in to optimize our online presences, our tools and our experiences,” he writes, “we are still at the mercy of big companies controlling the platforms we operate on.”
Perhaps nowhere is that lack of control being felt more acutely than it is today by Google Reader’s most loyal devotees, many of whom are lighting up social media with pleas for the company to reconsider its decision. Still others have already accepted the inevitable, blogging about how the RSS feeder’s end has been a foregone conclusion for a while now, and that it’s time to move on.
Time, they say, to look for other options.
The advent of Twitter, Facebook and apps like Flipboard—which more readily enable users not only to select the content they find most interesting, but the stuff that everybody else does as well— have surely contributed to the decline in overall usage of traditional RSS feeders like Google’s in recent years. However, there will always be a place for good web content aggregators that enable true news junkies who want to be in the know to know as much as they can, as quickly as they can…and to help them parse through it all more easily.
So what are the alternatives?
Cloud-based RSS readers are preferable, especially if you want to access your favorite web content from more than one location or device. Services like NewsBlur and NetVibes are good options in this category as is Feedly, which has already announced its plan to launch a Google Reader clone in the next few months.
Of course, there are also desktop-based options, but all of them are currently synced with Google Reader. However, it is anticipated that developers will quickly find ways around this challenge by syncing with alternative services long before July 1. And if you do most of your RSS reading from your smartphone or tablet, there are also iOS- and Android-based reader options to consider.
As for making the final switch? You’ll want to import your Google Reader feeds to your new RSS reader using Google Takeout. It will enable you to retain all your reader data and subscriptions without missing a beat. Click on https://www.google.com/takeout/ to find out how now!
What about you? How do you feel about the Google Reader shutdown? What RSS feeder do you use or will you use now that Google Reader is no longer an option? Why?