Why Did Google Reader Die?

I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t like RSS readers. When you subscribe to your favourite sites and read all their articles in a single, text-heavy interface, you’re eliding the beauty and variety of design on the Web. You’re also turning news reading into a chore. Or, at least, that’s what I felt—with its prominent, hectoring count of all my unread posts, opening up Google Reader was as stressful as dealing with my email inbox. And I want the Web to be fun, not stressful. So when Google announced this week that it would soon kill Google Reader, I wasn’t bothered in the least. I might even have said a few mean things about it on Twitter.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. You didn’t just love Google Reader. No, your feelings about it were much deeper—you relied on Google Reader, making it a central part of your daily workflow, a key tool for organising stuff you had to read for work or school. Now it’s gone, and you feel lost. Sure, there are alternatives, and transferring all your feeds to one of these will probably take just a few minutes. But that won’t be the end of it. You’ll still have to learn the quirks of your new software. You’ll still have to get the rhythm down. And most of all, you’ll still worry about abandonment. Google says it killed Reader because the software’s usage was on the decline. But Google Reader was the most popular RSS reader on the Web. If people were quitting Reader, aren’t they likely to quit the alternatives, too?

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