Now that Google has announced they’ll be shutting down Google Reader it’s left a lot of its users wondering what they will use as a replacement. A lot of people have immediately been jumping ship to some alternative RSS platforms such as Feedly who yesterday reported they’ve seen more than 500,000 Google Reader users join since. There’s other services such as Fever, Zite, NewsBlur and The Old Reader.
What all of these apps don’t have is a widely used API like Google Reader which means it has its own huge ecosystem of apps. None of the above have this (yet) so whilst they may be an alternative to the Google Reader service, they’re not a replacement for the experience. Fever is supported on the iPhone via Reeder, Zite and Feedly use their own apps but the most popular RSS apps are all exclusively tied to Google Reader. Moving to Feedly or NewsBlur is all well and good but it’s a tough decision to make when you are very attached to a specific app. There’s a reason I use Newsify rather than Reeder on iOS in the same way many people use Chrome instead of Safari.
Marco Arment made a great point last week that there’s a big risk for a format war with differing services offering their own APIs and sync services. He suggests mirroring the Google Reader API, which sites such as Digg and Feedly are doing. Once that happens then all it takes is for developers is to make some small changes to their existing apps and they can continue to be used.
Until then, why not keep using Google Reader? We know when it’ll shut down, it’s in just over 100 days in fact, and we can export our OPML files whenever we need to. If any of the current services were viable replacements to Google Reader then I’m sure a lot more of us would’ve used them. Plus, it’s been only five days since the announcement so I’d rather wait to see what the other hundred days bring before I make my decision.
For now, I’m quite happy continuing to use Google Reader until it’s demise.