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Will Google Reader's demise revive RSS?

Ian Paul and John Ribeiro | March 15, 2013
With Google Reader slated to end operations on July 1, people are looking for alternatives to get their daily RSS fix. And that could lead to a revival of sorts for RSS clients.

Now that Google Reader got its death sentence, the cries from die-hard fans of the online feed reader have gone out across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and websites the world over.

The outcry was especially loud on our forums. "This royally sucks," one commenter posted Wednesday. "It would be easier for me if Google decided to shut down email than Google shutting down Reader. This is going to be hard to replace."

It may have a declining user base--one of the reasons Google cited for the shutdown--Reader can still boast a core group of users that relied on the service. Journalists and individual bloggers with big Twitter followings are just two examples of that core 'Google Readership.' "Haven't heard that many people swear in our office in a long time," GigaOm staff writer Janko Roettgers said on Twitter, echoing similar cries by other reporters who used Reader to keep tabs on their beats.

Google Reader's demise doesn't just affect users who directly use the service, but a host of desktop RSS clients that synchronize with a user's feed subscriptions on Google Reader. The FeedDemon RSS reader, for example, will shut down after Google Reader disappears, although the client will still function for anyone who doesn't use FeedDemon for Reader synchronization. "If you're an avid FeedDemon user, you probably know that I've struggled to keep it updated," FeedDemon creator Nick Bradbury said in a blog post. FeedDemon stopped "paying the bills" a while ago, so Bradbury took a full-time job elsewhere and hasn't been able to give enough attention to FeedDemon.

If you're not familiar with RSS (Really Simple Syndication), it's a way of providing an automatic feed of links to new and updated pages on a website, including either the full text or a summary of the page. RSS readers automatically download the updates and display them in a list, making it easy to follow a collection of news sites and blogs and keep track of which ones have been read, without having to visit each of the sites in turn. Google Reader is an online service that can aggregate RSS feeds.

Reader will continue to operate until July 1, at which point the service will disappear. Until then, users can export their feed subscriptions to transfer to another client.

While Google Reader may have been the most widely used feed reader, alternatives remain for getting your daily RSS fix; they include NetVibes, NewsBlur, and The Old Reader. Others are even trying the popular Web service IFTT (if this, then that) as an alternative.


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