I don't use Google Apps for Business, I don't require extra storage, and I don't need to pay to advertise myself or my company through AdWords. Most of the ways Google wants to extract money from me directly are never going to work. Yet if Google started offering Reader for an annual subscription fee, I'd pay in a heartbeat.
Money picture from Shutterstock
Everyone understands the problem with free services: you have no grounds to complain if they suddenly disappear. So when Google Reader evaporates on July 1, I'm just going to have to suck it up like everyone else and choose an alternative. I'll do that, but I'd be much happier if Google would let me pay to keep using Reader. It's a central part of my workflow, and retraining on something else is going to be a major nuisance. I suspect there will be fewer keyboard shortcuts, and I'll find it harder to jump from device to device.
The online outcry (and the number of people reading our coverage of Reader's death and possible alternatives) suggests I'm not alone in this position. I get the economics. Google is a listed company. The ability to support 20 per cent projects and maintain basic versions of services with small but dedicated followings just isn't going to cut it any more.
It's all about centralisation, even if that centralisation means focusing on a confused offering like Google+, filled with people who count as 'users' because we don't have any choice but to sign up if we want to utilise other Google products, but who never actually touch it. The only time I ever look at Google+ is for very occasional hangouts. Otherwise, it's just a slowly-rising number in the corner of other Google screens which I consistently ignore.
Google already has payment systems and enormous server farms. Why not let Reader customers pay to keep using a corner of those? It doesn't need to be a complex development process that requires a big team. Indeed, you can uncouple it from Google+ entirely. I don't care about it being beautiful (the line Google trots out as its apparent primary motivation for almost everything these days). It works perfectly well. Hell, it could be rendered entirely in Courier for all I care.
Failing that happening (and sadly I know it won't), I hope an enterprising developer replicates the Google Reader interface. I don't need the sharing facilities so many others lamented when they evaporated; just give me the ability to star items and work in a browser, ideally without touching a mouse, and I will happily hand over some cash. We have three months. Time to code!