RIP Google Reader: First Thoughts

Google today announced the end of Google Reader. It was on the cards for ages; they’d tried to kill it before by removing features and getting everyone over to Google Plus. Only end user outcry staved off its inevitable demise.

Some thoughts.

Influence is Overrated

Its end was inevitable. Although many of the strongest users of Google Reader were “influencers” in social media, all the noise didn’t in the end matter. The product didn’t fit with the G+ strategy and was doomed. The ability of powerful advocates in the user community made a difference, but like King Canute of lore couldn’t stop the tide. Influence delayed the inevitable.

Feeds are not Dead

Anyone calling this the end of RSS is on crack. RSS lives and is the core technology binding your site’s content to other sites and services, such as Facebook and Twitter. Google doesn’t own, nor do they control, RSS.  RSS is a core content marketing technology. It is the core service-to-service content distribution technology, and as such delivers your content more readers than possibly asnything else. RSS is alive and kicking.

People Use Feeds Directly Less and Less

When Google says that usage of reader had declined, I believe them. RSS as a way to consume content for people appealed to a minority. Coupled with Google’s clear dislike for the product and blatant preference for G+, I’m sure GR usage was off, influencers be damned.

It’s Over for FeedBurner

Ok, you knew I’d get here. If you’re using FeedBurner, please take a moment to trundle over there, and look at your RSS subscriber metrics. Note the top two users of your RSS feed,and then come back. I’ll wait.

Welcome back.

Dollars to doughnuts your top two RSS readers are Google Reader and your blog’s email subscription service.

So long time readers know that I’ve been tracking Google’s wilful neglect of FeedBurner here. And now what have they done? Taken away a massive chunk of is audience. If you want to kill a publisher tool (FeedBurner) you have to be able to say that it’s losing audience and no longer relevant.

Call me a cynic - go on, in this case it’s true – but up until today they couldn’t say that. Blog and RSS subscriptions typically grow over time. They couldn’t claim that FeedBurner was losing traffic. Not unless they somehow managed to take away between 30% and 60% of everyone’s audience in one fell swoop.

See what they did? Now FeedBurner’s audience is going to be nominally slaughtered, killing demand for FeedBurner, enabling it to finally meet all of Google’s kill list criteria: A shrinking user base.

It’s over for FeedBurner. A little later than I’d expected – I thought they’d kill it in this year’s Spring Cleaning post – but the end of Google Reader is the last nail in FeedBurner’s coffin.  Sometime this year, I believe FeedBurner will be axed. I’m not sure whether its End of Life will be 2013 or maybe leak into 2014, but really, if you think Google gives a damn about RSS feeds, and by implication FeedBurner, what else do they have to do?

What Should You Do?

If you use Google Reader, export your subscriptions and choose a new RSS aggregator. FeedBlitz is NOT working on an end user aggregator – there are, I think, enough out there.

What About FeedBurner?

PLAN YOUR MOVE.

You don’t have to execute the switch now, but don’t be caught out by the announcement when it comes.

Plan your move on from FeedBurner. Take your RSS and come to FeedBlitz.  We do believe and we’re happy to help. FeedBlitz is the ONLY service to have RSS and email and monetization options, podcast settings and more.

Mail me directly – phil@feedblitz.com or tweet me @phollows. You can do this. We can help.

Meet Phil Hollows


Phil Hollows is the founder and CEO of FeedBlitz, the email marketing and social media automation service, and premium FeedBurner alternative. After graduating from Oxford University in 1987, Phil built on his high tech, consulting, and marketing leadership experience, and by 2005 the seeds of FeedBlitz were germinating. Private equity investment followed shortly thereafter, and the rest - as they say - is history. He also authored "List Building for Bloggers" {ListBuildingForBloggers.com}, outlining proven email strategies to build your audience, increase engagement, and grow your income. Pre-FeedBlitz, Phil was vice president of product marketing for enterprise network security management company OpenService (now LogMatrix), and vice president of technology at the web testing company RadView Software.


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