Why Google Should Start Charging For Reader

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!


Comments

    Have a look at http://totally.me which is a great alternative for both Google Reader and iGoogle (shutting down on November 1)

    I would pay for Reader. In fact, I've already paid for greader pro, a dedicated Reader client on android.

      Just making sure you know that greader pro is a "Google Reader". It wasn't clear if you were saying "you're happy to pay for an alternative, because you already did" or "you are happy to pay for Google Reader".
      I suspect that for many of us, we want web-based RSS feeds, so we can read them from any computer, and the updates are accumulated, regardless of whether or not we are logged on.

        I meant I am happy to pay for Google's Reader service, and as proof of my commitment to pay, I pointed out I have already paid for a non affiliated android app that only exists to bring Reader to android natively.

        On the web I use Reader with a couple of 'better reader' Chrome extensions.

        On my iPad I use Feeeedler.

        It's a sad day for me :(

        Last edited 14/03/13 10:23 pm

    "Google already has payment systems and enormous server farms. Why not let Reader customers pay to keep using a corner of those?"

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Yes, individuals who already give their content and behavior to those greedy bastards should now pay for the privilege of donating those resources. What a laugh. You should start a Kickstarter....

    Making money for every single item is a non-sustainable and short-term strategy brought about by companies and financial number tweakers trying to squeeze something for all its worth, rather than just valuing goodwill.

    I love Google services and their integration between each other, and love the fact that I don't pay for it (directly).

    But I do publicise their brand for them, and recommend it to my friends, and support the frameworks that do make them money, so every service that they remove which I rely on, makes me less of a customer - however I pay their bills.

    Just like they did to Microsoft, when it became more about making money than providing service some other company will come one day and corner the next great idea, and push them aside. And at the end of the day I'm more likely to follow the new guy, if the old guy has ticked me off too many times.

    Why has nobody written about the real reason iGoogle and Reader are being dropped? They don't have ADS!

    It seems simple enough to add ads to both services in the same way as Gmail ads work, but I suspect the truth is that nobody goes to the Google Reader webpage anymore, they just use it as an aggregator for other sites and apps. Tough to monetise that directly, but the benefit or tracking all those feeds must surely be huge? RSS feeds are the perfect way to learn about a user and then target ads in other sites/apps: "User X read 5 articles about product Y this morning, maybe they would like to see an ad about product Y?"

    It's not about "focusing Google's efforts on core products", it's about eliminating the freebies all together. Today I switched from Reader to Feedly, and guess what? Feedly has ads.

    I predict Picasa is going to be the next major Google App to get cut. It has no ads.

      I take your point, however i think Picasa is being rolled into Google plus.

    I agree that it's about the lack of ads. Too many people using third-party apps that don't have google ads, I guess.

    Here's a crowdsourced list of alternatives to Google Reader. Feel free to vote/comment and suggest additions.

    http://list.ly/list/33u-google-reader-rss-reader-alternatives-crowdsourced-list

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now