The recent news of Google Reader's retirement may be surprising to some, but to others the writing has been on the wall for the online RSS reader for a while. I would say, since just after Google Plus emerged from the chaos of Wave and Buzz.
Don't get me wrong, I actually believe that Wave and Buzz were two of the best pieces of software that Google ever created. On the one hand, the pair of apps heralded a new age of cutting-edge, standards compliant and API-centric software that was built natively for the web rather than as internet-enabled alternatives to desktop applications. On the other-hand, their very usefulness meant they couldn't be easily monetised without damaging them. But, they were never meant to be revenue generators, they were designed to fulfil user needs.
And this is why Google Reader can never be part of Google's future.
We need to remember that Google, like Facebook and Twitter, is an advertising company; that's where the company's income comes from. Plus is the user-data aggregation portal for Google's search engine adverts. Plus wasn't engineered to fulfil an user's needs, but the organisation's. Anything that no longer fits within the Google Plus environment no longer fits within Google.
To the lifeboats!
As many people's main RSS reader and the engine driving many others, where does losing Google Reader leave RSS, as a protocol?
I agree with Marco Arment's succint post on Google Reader's closure. Basically, this could be the best thing for the future of RSS.
Google Reader has enjoyed a near monopoly on RSS readers since 2005. Forcing other providers to step into the breach and build new tools can only be a good thing for RSS as a whole.
So, here's to the future of RSS.