Google has announced closure of the Google Reader RSS service.
From a business perspective, it's a logical decision. Like it or not (and I don't) RSS is slowly dying, replaced with a Babel of fragmented APIs. Chalk up another one for Dark Social. Loss of Reader will hit me hard. Apart (possibly) from GMail, it's my most valuable online service. Would I pay for this service? Yes, a small amount, probably the same as I pay for Flickr Pro, no more.
The worry now is that Feedburner will follow (I always thought that would go first). I need to be looking for alternatives to that. MailChimp has a good service and a viable business model, but I run most of my online publishing on zero budget so I can't afford to pay for service. Death of Feedburner would also shut down a number of my pro bono online activities. Lots of other people will be feeling the same way. The death of Reader will have far reaching implications.
I've been critical of Google Reader in the past, it took me a long time to get used to it. I preferred Bloglines but the service was never reliable enough. NetNewsWire is OK, although the interface feels like going back to the 90s, and I need a cloud service that syncs across the several machines I use during a day and with a mobile interface for tablets and smartphones. Flipboard is nice, as are Feedly and Netvibes, but neither are a replacement or Google Reader since they emphasise pretty over function and don't deal efficiently with large numbers of subscriptions. If you don't understand why none of these services is an adequate replacement for the 400 subscriptions I currently manage in Reader here's an analogy: Reader is the British Library/Library of Congress; the others are Heat magazine. Right now my overwhelming feeling is of anger, and thinking about ways to punish Google, which is of course ridiculous. I'm toying with the silly idea of boycotting Google+. If you feel obliged to poke the angry blogger with a stick by pointing out that this is an emotional rather than a logical reaction, welcome to the darkest depths of my spam folder.
How can Google redeem itself? The answer is simple and seems logical to me. Introduce RSS subscriptions into Google+. That would suit me well, but Google shows no signs of moving in that direction. Unless it does, I don't know where I'm going to go.