Google Reader, the widely used RSS reader, is all but dead. Google recently declared that it would discontinue the service once July 1 rolls around. This has hit several of the service’s biggest fans hard. The reality, though, is that there are other choices. Google made a decision to close the service since its user base was progressively falling. Nonetheless the closure of Google Reader provides an valuable lesson to consumers: There’s no guarantee that your favorite, free cloud service won’t vanish, also.
The impermanence of the cloud
The world of the cloud is an ever-changing one. Companies add new products. They also pull those that aren’t performing well. That’s what happened with Google Reader. It’s an issue that Farhad Manjoo, a writer with Slate, says that consumers should expect to see more often. Nothing that lives in the cloud is assured eternal life, Manjoo writes. Google promoted Reader as though it was going to be a permanent part of the company. But that obviously isn’t the case. So be warned, Manjoo writes, there’s no guarantee that any of your other favorite cloud software will live forever, either.
The pitfall with the cloud
As Manjoo writes, Reader’s death highlights one of the many downsides of cloud-based software: It could be highly impermanent. You will never know if your preferred service will disappear. Of course, back in the days before the cloud grew to be so popular, all of us had favorite word-processing systems, spreadsheet programs and game series that manufacturers suddenly discontinued. However, you could still access those programs on your own discs. With cloud services, though, that isn’t the case. When they’re gone, they’re gone, as fans of Reader will soon learn.
Issues for Google
Consumers aren’t the only ones facing tough issues with the demise of Reader. Google does, too. As the Economist explains in a recent story, when Google introduces a new product, it expects users to flock to it. But why should consumers do this if there’s the possibility that Google will simply get rid of the programs? Eliminating Reader may have made financial sense for Google. Nevertheless, it might cause consumers to think twice before embracing the company’s next cloud-based service.