I just signed in to my Google Reader account for the first time in a few weeks. I was greeted by a message that “Google Reader will be unavailable after July 1, 2013.” Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim‘s coverage cites the possible cost of instituting an infrastructure within Google to oversee privacy compliance within the Reader ranks as the most likely reason for the death of another free service.
Can’t say as I blame them. I have continually marveled at the wide array of services that Google has built for web users and offered for free. And I’ve tried to take advantage of the ones most useful to me, Reader included. In the back of my mind, I recognized that these services were a way of aggregating a deep repository of personal data on me. And I knew that this data was commercialized, not simply used for the benefit of Google’s engineers who were improving the service array and search algorithms to stay in the forefront of users, but to also sell more ads. The exchange of these services for private information has been an acceptable value to me.
As governments across the globe take a greater interest in staving off the wholesaling of intimate information on behavior and interests, Google has been the big dog that gets the most scrutiny. Even for a company as profitable as Google, there comes a point at which the cost of defending these collection technologies exceeds their commercial value, especially when the enterprise has so many ways of getting the same data.
The fact remains, though, that I and all the other Reader users have long ago gone through the learning curve and have even found new and useful ways to make Reader a part of our professional and person lives. For example, Google Reader’s mobile application is on both my tablet and smartphone. The threat to that convenience is disconcerting. The problem of finding a substitute service is daunting. The prospect of having to subscribe to a paid aggregator is unpleasant.
What will you use to continue to have a central custom library of internet sources to which you turn regularly for information and insight? I’m looking for a new one and could use the help.
UPDATE: Here’s a list of Reader substitutes I found on e-Consultancy.