Today, Google announced that as part of its spring cleaning of lesser used services, it would be discontinuing Google Reader. The blog post that announces it cites the lowered use of Google Reader recently and that Google is trying to pare down its services so that it can offer higher quality service in the areas that it does offer.
Reader was released in 2005. I have been using it since 2009. It changed the way that I consumed content on the internet. Instead of visiting a set of blogs each day, I was able to skim through all of the headlines that had been posted and only read those stories that interested me. I was also able to use it to see all of the posts made to a subreddit each day. I used it to read, but I also frequently shared articles from it. It has always been able to shre links to articles via email, facebook, and twitter, but it also added Google Plus integration later on (and removed its native sharing and friending at the same time, which angered many people). I use it to keep a list of articles that I find worth reading on my Google+ +1 page. I basically live in it when I am using the internet. I suppose that I am one of the devoted follower that the announcement is talking about.
This is one of my main problems with Google. They come out with a lot of good and useful services, but there is little guarantee that those services will stick around. I suppose this is what I get from a company that gives away most of its services for free. The same thing happened with wave and with Listen, both of which I used regularly (although I understand killing Wave; no one knew what to use it for). Unfortunately, even companies that I have paid for things from give no guarantee that they will be around forever (see Sparrow). It seems that if I want good software to be around forever, I need to write it myself. This is also a problem for many companies. Most RSS readers for iOS and Android as well as several for OS X depend on Google Reader to provide their feeds. They sync their feeds, read status, and favorites with Google Reader, because that is what everyone used. They will need to rewrite themselves to use another service, but there is not going to be an agreement on what service that everyone should rally around.
Of course, this might actually be a good thing. RSS readers have not changed much since Google Reader was released. like Gmail, it was just so much better than anything else out there that there was little reason to innovate. According to Marco Arment, this will spur innovation in the long term, as there will be plenty of people trying to fill the void left by Reader. He may just be right. It will really suck the interim, however.
I will probably be reviewing some RSS readers in the near future. I will probably wait a little, though, since Reader is not going anywhere yet. I will wait to see what springs up in its place.