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Bill Bennett

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Sometimes free is too high a price

Google ReaderGoogle says it is closing its free Google Reader service because of declining use.

The company doesn’t make any money from its free web-based RSS reader, so its death doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, Google is a business, not a charity.

RSS is vital. Thousands of people including journalists rely on Google Reader to check online news feed.

It has been the best tool for that job for a long time. It has been so good that it has killed off most of its competition.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools simply don’t compare for this kind of work. RSS feeds provide comprehensive lists, social media tends to give a fleeting snapshot.

There are other RSS tools, none of them work as well as Google Reader. It has the best interface for quickly scanning large numbers of posts, it has decent search tools built-in.

If Google started charging for Google Reader, I’d happily pay. It would be worth the fee.

There’s a disturbing side to Google’s decision to shut Google Reader. Before Reader there was a healthy set of competing RSS readers. One by one these fell by the wayside because they were unable to compete with the search giant’s free service.

Google entered the space, wiped out the competition and now it is leaving the space.

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