Google on Wednesday announced in a blog post that it would shut down Google Reader on July 1. According to Urs Hölzle, Google senior vice president of technical infrastructure, the excuse was that "usage has declined."
Developers had expressed worry about the continuation of Google Reader for more than a year. Google Reader was not a syncing service, and its APIs were undocumented and unsupported. Still, a number of RSS clients relied on it.
I really don't understand the dissing of RSS and apparently I'm not alone based on the alarm on Twitter as well as worried posts on discussion boards, such as that for the popular NetNewsWire app on the Mac and iOS platforms. I've been a long, longtime user of NetNewsWire and use it throughout the day.
Brent Simmons, the creator of NetNewsWire (which he sold several years ago to Black Pixel http://blackpixel.com/) recently proposed that "somebody" should write a sync service, and charge a monthly subscription for its support.
Daniel Jalkut, founder of Red Sweater Software, on Wednesday suggested (or expressed some hope) on his Bitsplitting.org blog that this could be an opportunity for Black Pixel or some other bold vendor. But it's not a certain deal. He writes:
At this point Black Pixel need to ask themselves one question: are we interested in RSS, or aren’t we? They acquired NetNewsWire because they no doubt loved it and had become reliant on using it themselves. They wanted to see it live on and prosper. But did they expect to be put in a position where they are faced with the challenge/opportunity of becoming the world’s leading RSS services company? Probably not.
Jalkut suggested that Google's refusal to open up and support its syncing APIs became a growing and serious issue for client developers. And now, push has come to shove with the termination of Google Reader.
By implementing a suitable syncing API for RSS, and implementing a reasonably useful web interface, Black Pixel could establish NetNewsWire Cloud as the de facto replacement for Google Reader. Charging a reasonable fee for this service would likely inoculate it from the risk of sudden termination, and it would doubly serve to provide the very service that NetNewsWire needs to thrive on the desktop and on iOS.
Don’t get me wrong: this is no small order. I would not fault Black Pixel one iota for looking at the challenge and deciding to take a pass. But if they are truly passionate about RSS, this is their moment. This is the chance where accepting the impossible challenege will reap the greatest reward.
As an RSS user, I can only hope that Black Pixel, or some other RSS-savvy company will pick up the baton in the RSS relay race. Perhaps Apple could spring some of its immense cash reserve and preserve RSS for the rest of us?