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...And You Are No Google Reader
It has been six years and this is still a problem
This article was published on an old version of this website in 2015. It has been slightly edited., but is likely still full of spelling and grammatical errors.
As a content consumer, I don’t miss Google Reader. Long before Google shut it down, it had rendered itself a backend end of native mobile apps. Google pulled the core, I seamlessly switched to Feedly’s replacement service. I kind of understand Om Malik’s sentiment:
Somewhere deep in the bowels of Googleplex, someone is wondering, Why the hell did we shut down Google Reader? Because it seems these days everyone wants to build one of those “readers,” though they come up with fancy names for them.
Google missed the boat. Reader remained a dumb RSS reader while other sites speed by. With Reader, Google had the core of the social network it has always wanted.
To say that anyone at Google regrets shutting down reader in light of the resent explosion of “reader” seems silly. Notify makes total sense for Facebook. The feedback loop between Notify and Facebook’s Newsfeed is obvious. But this is just another big of personal data we are handing over to Facebook’s algorithm.
As a content publisher and audience development professional, it is unclear to me how any of these solutions is sustainable. Flipboard was supposed to be the future. Now executives are jumping ship and they can’t find a buyer. Publishers have already started to turn on Apple’s new news reader app. Digiday is reporting traffic is underperforming and Apple has yet to deliver analytics publisher need to monetize the traffic they are getting.
Then there is Facebook’s Instant Articles. In May, Publishers were begging to get in on the new hotness. All of that engagement has started to dry up and publishers are seeing traffic and revenue fall. Publishers are starting to push back. They have all this control to Facebook but they are not getting paid.
Everyone is building a newsreader. But none of them are making money and publishers are spreading themselves thin trying to find anything that works. Apple News doesn’t seem to be working. Facebook Instant doesn’t seem to be working. Dump RSS feeds never worked.
Product mangers running around trying to get trendy new technology out the door. But this is really nothing new. We have been squeezing value out each page view for a decade.