in Google, iOS, webhosting

On Google Reader

Ever since the Google Reader news of day before, I’ve noticed a marked increase in traffic to my blog posts regarding Fever as an alternative RSS reader. In fact, I’ve seen my previous record for views in a day of 495 was broken yesterday with 539 views. I’d like to comment on a few things while I have your attention.

First of all, yes, Google Reader was a free service and yes Fever is not. You pay $30 upfront and if you’re not able to get free Appfog hosting, you end up paying about $4-6 per month for hosting it on a fairly cheap host like NearlyFreeSpeech. Why is it variable? Because Fever’s hosting costs you based on how many feeds you want to add to it (my Fever MySQL database is 200 MB at the moment). But even though Fever is a paid solution, I’d still make the case for it.

Then there are the other services. Feedly has been anticipating the death of Google Reader since quite some time and are readying a solution that’ll help people shift to the service without any hassles. Pulse is another feed reader that you can opt for. Of course, in this increasingly mobile world, it’s simply better to have a feed reader that has presence on your iPhone, iPad and Android tablets. So if you’re looking for a mobile fix, those are your options.

Finally, there are apps like Google Currents. The problem with such services is that they’re about auto-discovery. You don’t select exactly what feeds you’d like to read, you tell them your interests and the app then pulls out the right feeds and displays the correct content based on that. If you couldn’t be bothered to read smaller authors and build your own reading list, this is the way to go. In the mobile arena, this is the move Google is making. Currents gives them information about the one topic that Google Reader can’t – What are mobile users reading?

Then there are the link up voting style websites – reddit, HackerNews and theList. They will give you the top news that your community feels is important, but will leave you high and dry when looking for news, articles or opinions that few agree with or are simply, off the mainstream.

There are thousands of options out there and I’ve just highlighted the few. I’ve not even mentioned the amazing array of desktop and web feed readers out there because the focus is increasingly on mobile consumption. This is thus, not at all a comprehensive list but just a comment that with the death of Google Reader and the imminent rise of all other services. In fact, if you want a pretty comprehensive list, head to ReplaceReader because they’re evaluating services based on popularity. You can play with them all but I suggest you pick only the ones that lets you control what you see because if you’re letting them control what’s in front of you, you’re certainly not seeing the bigger picture and the better authors.

Ending Note: Unlike last time, this time I agree with Marco Arment that Google Reader’s demise is not a bad but a good thing because a lot of apps will grow and innovate to move into this space. RSS is not a failed technology and is not replaceable by Twitter. It is robust and though it’s been around since forever, there’s still enough happening to make it better. I personally know of a new RSS service that’s looking to replace Google Reader and Fever using compatible APIs. The future holds good things.

What do you think?


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