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Julio Romo

Julio Romo

Dubai based Digital, PR, Communications and Innovation Consultant.

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Google Reader – The End and The Alternatives [UPDATED]

March 15 2013 02.34 | 01 Comment

The end of Google Reader, but not for RSS feeds

The end of Google Reader, but not for RSS feeds

In a recent blog post Google announced the closure of Google Reader. The service, which is an aggregator of content served by web feeds, will cease on 1st July.

Google reader has become an essential tool for journalists, PRs and those in communications roles in business and the public sector. It has allowed users to subscribe to websites and content that used RSS web feed formats.

The announcement by Google in it’s blog ‘A Second Spring Cleaning‘ took many by surprise as the service is still very popular with influencers in media and communications. In a Sysomos blog post a few days back Mark Evans states, ‘When It Comes to Digital Influencers, Blogs Rule.’

Google Reader went live in October 2005. It was created by by Google engineer Chris Wetherell (@cw), Mihai Parparita (@mihai) and Jason Shellen (@shellen). Former Google Labs Product Marketing Manager and now Instagram founder Kevin Systrom (@kevin) was also responsible for pushing it out of the Google Labs team.

In the past five years, Reader has been adopted by a wide group of people, especially journalists and those working in communications roles in business or the public sectors.

Journalists have been using Google Reader to aggregate RSS links. It has enabled them to be alerted when an organisation in a sector they cover updates their website. Reader has also allowed them to monitor independent bloggers that could be first with insight and so be valuable independent commentators. And while we have taken to Twitter and other social networks, RSS feeds today still enable us to get the content, from the coal face, and without the noise.

Visiting Professor at London’s City University’s School of Journalism Professor Paul Bradshaw (@PaulBradshaw) is a fan of RSS feeds, having taught students about the value of feeds in his Online Journalism Courses.

Even for PRs, Google Reader has become an essential tool for monitoring content online. And the fact that Google Reader is cloud based is another reason why those working in-house or agency-side have it as a default tool on their desktop, mobile and tablet.

The fact is that while Google has killed Reader, it has not killed RSS feeds. And while a campaign has been started that asks Google to save Reader, it is unlikely to change the search giants decision.

If you are scratching you head and wandering what to do, then for the time being you need not panic. Google has given us three and a half months until 1st July to export our feeds and find an alternative service.

I use Silvio Rizzi ReederApp (@ReederApp). On Twitter, Silvio posted  yesterday, ‘Don’t worry, Reeder won’t die with Google Reader.’ This app enables me keep my feeds synced while I am on the go, hence the value of it being cloud based.

Paul Bradshaw has a Google Doc that lists all alternative RSS aggregators. A great document and one that’s worth a look.

And once you have found you alternative this Lifehacker post gives you details on how to export your feeds from Google Reader and import them to your new service.

For me, the essentials for an alternative include:

  • Be a cloud service – you can access your feeds from you desktop, mobile and tablet
  • You can star and tag content that you read
  • You can share content across your networks – Twitter, Evernote, Delicious
  • It have a Bitly functionality
  • It has search capability.

So, in short, what I want is for Google Reader to stay with us!!

***UPDATE 17/03/2013***

Social Times reports in a post ‘Why Google Is Really Pulling The Plug On Readerthat the reason behind Google’s decision to kill Reader is ‘that Google will launch mobile news subscriptions to compete with Apple’s lucrative Newsstand.’

Writing in Social Times Cameron Scott (@ConcertoMates) reports, ‘A former Google Reader product manager offered a different, but complementary, analysis on Quora. Brian Shih argues that Google repeatedly endeavored to pull technical staff from Reader and reassign the staffers to social products.

Shih’s account suggests that Google saw Reader as competition for Google+. The company may want its users to rely on Google+ to get more Web content in one place.’

Meanwhile BuzzFeed is reporting that Google Reader drives more traffic than Google+.

Comments (1)

Tim Aldiss says:

Shocked and disheartened by this, and unfortunately no one can ride into town and save the day. However there are other services out there, very similar and actually perhaps more 'social' than Reader even used to be. I'm waiting to trial theoldreader.com which has been recommended to me as a Reader clone.

Such a poor decision by Google, and one that is taking Google further away from the vision a lot of us bought into. Devin Coldewey's brilliant article on Techcrunch says it all: God Damin It Google! http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/17/god-damn-it-goog

Thanks for the empathetic read!

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