This summer, July 1 to be precise, the Google Reader RSS service will vanish. Google is killing it, citing a declining user base. That is bad news for fans of the RSS service. But it’s also a learning point: Consumers need to understand that any one of their most favorite cloud-based services can cease to exist. Don’t expect Google Reader to be the last one to do so.
An ever-changing cloud
In an interesting story on Slate, writer Farhad Manjoo wrote about Google’s promotion of Reader when the company first unveiled it in 2005. Back then, Google referred to the RSS service as if it would be part of the Google universe forever. Consumers believed them, and many embraced the service. Now, obviously, it is disappearing. And the takeaway? Consumers should not be shocked when one of their preferred free Web-based services does the same.
Look at your favorite cloud-based programs today. Think of how much you use them. Then let yourself become a little nervous: Nothing is preventing the companies behind these programs from eliminating them should they stop growing or generating money. This is totally different from the days when we stored the majority of our software on our computers. If your favorite word-processing service was discontinued, you still had use of it. That’s not the case with cloud services. Gone means gone when it comes to the cloud.
A bleaker future for Google?
Consumers aren’t the only ones facing issues with the demise of Reader. Google does, too. As the Economist explains in a recent story, when Google introduces something new, it expects users to flock to them. But why should consumers do this if there’s a chance that Google will just get rid of the programs? Getting rid of Reader may have made financial sense for Google. Nonetheless, it might cause consumers to think twice before embracing the company’s next cloud-based service.
Posted on: 04.24.13