Recently, Google announced that it will be shutting down Google Reader on July 1, 2013, as part of a “spring cleaning” of lesser-used services. Reactions have been varied, ranging from dismay from die-hard fans to triumphs from skeptics who claim that Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets have already replaced RSS. In between those extremes, we've heard a lot of apathy or confusion from people who never understood the value in the first place. Wherever you might stand on the future of RSS, it’s clear that this move will force content providers to think harder about the investments they make in different information outlets.
Here at One North, we've often recommended RSS as a useful (if not always strategic) feature to reach engaged audiences and improve SEO. Here are some initial reactions to Google’s announcement from the One North team:
It's too difficult to explain RSS to the average user. Apps like Flipboard, which allow the visitor to add sites without any hassle, combined with a slick interface killed Reader.
Mike Weisert, Strategist
I was very disappointed when I heard the news that Google Reader is being discontinued. I rely on it to follow technology blogs and as a Gmail, Android and Chrome OS user, it integrates well with these services. I will be exporting my subscriptions to a less convenient service in the future as RSS is essential for me to consume information.
Eric Frus, Architect
Personally, I really like the Feedly service, which ties directly to my Google Reader account. But I've always had a hard time convincing people outside our industry to use RSS. The best explanation I could offer was to compare it to Twitter.
Sarah Levine Meyer, Director, Strategy
I think the killing of Google Reader is a blow to information junkies who consume a lot content and don't want the noise of social media. Myself, I read about 40 blogs a day in Reader, scanning headlines for pertinent information. I can usually do this in about 20 minutes. To boot, I could sync across all my devices with Google Reader as the hub. Time to start looking for an alternative...
Jeff Small, Director, Technology Solutions
Google reader may be going away, but the fundamental concept behind RSS has never been stronger. Remember, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. That concept hasn't gone away; it’s just found its way to different, more user-friendly channels. Although we've had Really Simple Syndication for a long time, RSS readers were never set up for Really Simple Content Consumption in the same way that social networks and other tools are.
Josh Amer, Strategist
Personally, I’m not sure I really care. I rarely use RSS myself, and I can’t remember the last time a client brought it up as a critical marketing tool. But if you’re still a fan of RSS, check out this post on Lifehacker for suggestions on replacement readers.