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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.

All hope is not lost

Amid the wrenching cries of loss over Google Reader, however, others remain a little more hopeful. "Google Reader is a convenient way to sync between our RSS clients today, but back when it was launched in 2005, it destroyed the market for desktop RSS clients," Marco Arment creator of the Instapaper news reading app said in a blog post. "We're finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms for the first time in almost a decade."

For example, NewsGator decided in 2009 to shut down NewsGator online and have its RSS readers synchronize with Google Reader, to focus on social sites for enterprise organizations.

Software developer and early RSS developer Dave Winer offered a similar opinion to Arment. "It's possible to use RSS without being dependent on Google Reader," Winer said in a blog post Thursday. "And since [Google Reader] is going away, that should probably be seen as good news, not bad." Winer uses RSS to create what he calls a "river of news" that can display your feeds on a public Web page.

Flipboard hopes to convince Google Reader users to move their feeds to its mobile reader app.

If you're not interested in Winer's DIY solution, many alternatives are already fighting to take over the space Google Reader occupied in the hearts and minds of power users. "We've Got Your RSS Covered! Save Your Google Reader Feeds Now," said a blog post by Flipboard, which offers a reader for mobile devices. "If you already have a Flipboard account and you have signed into your Google Reader, you don't need to do anything."

Feedly, which also offers a reader, has attempted to clone the Google Reader API, and is also offering the backend to third-party developers using the Google Reader API. "We would love to keep the Google Reader ecosystem alive," it said in a blog post.

Feedly says it's been expecting the closure of Google Reader for some time. The company has been working on a project called Normandy which is a Feedly clone of the Google Reader API, running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, Feedly expects to transition to the Normandy back end. "So if you are a Google Reader user and using Feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless," it said.

After this article was initially published, Digg threw its hat into the news reader ring. In a post on the social news website's blog, Digg said it would build a news reader, targeting the second half of 2013 for its release. "We've heard people say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we're convinced that it's a product worth saving," the Digg post reads.


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