MG Seigler on TechCrunch on the Google Reader shutdown problem.
Of course, the reality is that Google is likely shutting down the product for a good reason: relatively few people used it, with less using it over time. More wood, fewer arrows, and all that. But that doesn’t mean this move isn’t a mistake for a couple reasons.
Lots of media noise from the shutdown of a product whose users are declining in number. What’s really happening?
The first is that Reader’s users, while again, relatively small in number, are hugely influential in the spread of news around the web. In a sense, Reader is the flower that allows the news bees to pollinate the social web. You know all those links you click on and re-share on Twitter and Facebook? They have to first be found somewhere, by someone. And I’d guess a lot of that discovery happens by news junkies using Reader.
By killing the flower, Google could also kill the bees. That would be bad for all of us, even if we no longer use Reader or have any clue what RSS is.
But the second reason worries me even more because it’s more quantifiable. By killing Reader, Google is likely to harm a lot of publishers, large and small, by eliminating a larger source of traffic.
Note that Google’s search engine results now contain more page real estate devoted to paid advertising than to search results. That gives Google more revenue and profits, but gives those who use Google to find search results, fewer results.