How is the just announced July demise of Google Reader good news? The Google version of the RSS platform was never going to be as glitzy as Google+ or Chrome. Reader has its devoted following, and they’ve gone ahead with the obligatory online petition to grant it a stay of execution. But the writing is on the wall, and Reader fans need to get a grip. The truth is that Reader once filled a niche in the same way that blogrolls used to. Now the same content aggregating function is largely rolled into Twitter (Finally Good News Twitter Example). Google+ is making a play for not only Facebook’s share of the social media pie. They want to, in established Google form, be an all-inclusive service provider. Google Reader would be a relic, and it’s far from a bad thing to want to eliminate redundancy.
We should never take this instinct for granted even though it makes perfect sense from just about every conceivable perspective. But how many corporations with bucket loads of cash and a virtual lock on its market actually follow through? How many innovative and daring companies balance their free spirit with the Japanese kaizen sensibility of constant improvement through rigorous efficiency? Again, this is a very difficult move to pull off when you consider that Google is a hothouse for out-of-the-box thinking.
Of course, even Toyota has had its bad days and the Japanese economy its bad decades. But the principle still stands: Always try to make something better even when the existing service is quite good. So I come to bury Reader, not praise it (all that much) even though it is praiseworthy and many a voracious consumer of Internet news and journalism will walk away with fond memories of subscription list scrolling. Those were good days, but the best is yet to come.