My esteemed colleague, hedge fund manager and blogger John Hempton, has an excellent reaction post re: Google shutting off Reader. Hempton believes, as I do, that Google is making a huge mistake with Reader. We all understand that RSS feeds are essentially a niche product for a small group of hypernerds, content creators and bloggers – but goddamn it we love it and need it and have spent years curating and organizing our feeds.
For example, I follow 381 different blogs, publications and sites right now – my list has been added to and pruned almost daily since November of 2008; it’s like a pet I’ve taken care of for five years, in perfect health, that Larry Page wants to put to sleep for no discernible good reason. Hempton points out that many of the core Reader users are the world’s most important thought leaders – and so shutting off an essentially perfect, completely finished product we’re using seems nonsensical.
But his main point is that Google doesn’t give a shit about “niche” – it’s all about mass-market and has no time for anything without multi-billion dollar potential anymore. Which is how he gets to the following conclusion:
“The mass-market RSS alternative is Twitter. However among the more wordy-and-literate-and-older RSS is still important. My readers are older, better read, and better educated than the average internet user and I have about four times as many RSS followers as I do Twitter followers. Still as a blogger I needed to face the new reality and get a Twitter feed. In abandoning RSS Google is showing the sort of petulance that a mega-company has when it missed a mass-market trend. It seems pretty obvious now that Google is going to want to buy Twitter.”
Obvious steps to use the RSS feed to extend or expand other Google products have not been made. The idea of shifting your RSS feed into your Google+ account was seemingly not tried. Rather than abandoning Reader Google could have directed all the thought-leader eyeballs to Google+ – and offered more product. I guess Google has also given up trying to make Plus a serious alternative to Facebook. If it is not a mass-market Google is not interested in it.
The rest of his observations on the topic are equally interesting – including the fact that “twenty percent time” is probably dead at Google and that Yahoo should buy out the site we’re all migrating to, Feedly, to take advantage of Google’s short-sightedness.
Head over below:
Follow John on what Google believes to be a suitable alternative to RSS feeds, Twitter: @john_hempton