Throughout history, things come and go. What was once at the very top, ends up being replaced. When was the last time you made a call from a corded phone? How about listened to the radio? When did you read a newspaper last? The world is constantly evolving, and what’s the norm now may not be so five or 10 years from now.
On July 1, Google Reader saw its demise. Easily one of the most popular RSS readers on the planet, Google claimed declining usage was a factor in their decision to shut it down. Back in March when an announcement was made, bloggers and readers were extremely vocal. Most were very upset, and thought it was an incredibly stupid move on Google’s part.
However, the tech giant has a lot of products and services under its belt. For any business, you need to stay focused, and keep the money rolling in. Unfortunately, Reader simply wasn’t part of a focus anymore. With the shut down, many bloggers started to question what it meant for the industry. Was this the start of a major shift? Are blogs going by the wayside?
After all, when big decisions are made by companies who have a large impact on a specific industry, it can have a number of consequences, both good and bad. However, the death of Google Reader wasn’t a bad thing after all.
Unknown Competition Now Well Known
Reader dominated the market for a very long time. Google offered a solid, minimal service that didn’t cost a dime. The thing is though, there were hundreds of other alternatives that no one even knew about. In fact, my absolutely favorite RSS reader Feedly, has been around since 2008, and offers a far superior experience in my opinion.
Whenever there is a void in a marketplace, someone will fill it. In the case of RSS readers, many not only filled the void, but stepped their game up to capture interest. Just a few months ago, people could maybe name a couple alternatives. Now, you could name a couple handful. Competition is a good thing, and this gets us into my next point…
More Interest Than Ever Before
It’s fascinating how the death of something can breath new life. Upon hearing that Google Reader was shutting down, and being reminded whenever you logged in, users scrambled to find another service. This lead to massive jumps in usage which is quite ironic considering the original reason why Reader would shut down.
For example, between March 13 (when Google announced the shut down) and April 1, Feedly saw three million new users. To put this in perspective, it took the RSS alternative a little over four years just to reach four million users. This death, while disappointing to many, lead to a spark being ignited. It’s safe to say that RSS readers are more popular than ever, likely leading to consistent traffic across a number of different blogs.
People Will Always Find A Way
We all have our favorite sites, and people to follow. Over the years, we’ve developed an affinity for others, a loyalty, and maybe have even embedded ourselves as part of their community. Even if RSS readers no longer existed, we would still find a way to consume the content from those that we love. We’d create Twitter lists, subscribe to their blog via email, get notified of new updates to their Facebook page, maybe even go old school by creating a new bookmarks folder, and checking each site manually.
You see, people access content in a variety of ways. While services like Google Reader may seem important to those of us familiar with them, the reality is a large percentage of people don’t even have a clue what RSS is. In a way, we are the minority. The success or to more accurately put it, the life of blogs, is not dictated by third party services. The life is dictated by the people behind them, and the quality of what they put out there to the world.
Unless everyone starts cloning TMZ, we should be okay.
Photo credit: Kristina B
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.