the announcement that google will be closing down its RSS reader didn’t go down well with a lot of people, including me. i use the RSS reader daily. i have subscriptions to ca. 30 feeds, mostly for general news (newspaper), tech/linux news and a few for work (some academic journals provide RSS feeds, i also have set up notificiations for a few web pages like job advertisement pages at universities etc. through page2rss ). i know we have no right to complain when someone stops providing a free service – still, it is annoying because it means that i have to look for an alternative. an essential criterion for me is that it needs to be web-based, because i use it from different computers and it needs to stay synced. the most promising alternative so far seems to be the old reader. i really like the minimalist approach. however, it seems it’s more or less a hobbyist project and we’ll have to see how they handle the large influx of new users. i’m also not convinced with their update speed yet. they say that they refresh the RSS sources at least once a day. but once a day is too slow. with google reader, i’m used to get updates within ca. 15 minutes. another alternative is feedly, but it requires a browser add-on and looks bloated. actually, i have more hope for a new reader that is being developed by digg. let’s see what they can cook up.

the question remains why google is suddenly closing down the reader. in the announcement, they are hinting at the possibility that it has something to do with their ongoing attempt to concentrate their activities around google+. but of course social media sites are not a full replacement for a full-fledged RSS reader. google also mentions that usage of their reader has been declining. i have a hard time believing that there is not enough demand, though, when i look at the user stats of the old reader before and after google’s announcement. this is more likely to be a business decision. google’s core business is ads. that’s why they don’t want you to read the news inside the RSS reader, they want you to read it on the webpage itself, where you’ll see the ads. of course in reality that won’t change anything because people will simply move to another RSS reader. besides, any sane person has an ad-blocker installed anyway.

update 30. july 2013:
google reader has been dead now for ca. 1 month. i’ve since more or less settled on using the old reader, however that was not a very long lasting solution, because they just announced that following a disastrously failed storage migration, they are going to close the service down to the public. well…
the good news is that in the meantime, the digg reader has been released as well, and i really like it. it’s quite basic but gets the job done, just what i need. so unless there are any bad surprises with the digg reader in the future, it looks like it will be my RSS reader of choice from now on.

update 9. october 2013:
the old reader has been brought back to live and after using it and the digg reader in parallel for a while, i’ve now more or less settled on using the former.