"One thing that’s definitely coming (and some of these already exist, although haven’t yet been made public) is extremely deep API support. Our general plan here is to expose nearly everything in NewsGator Online via API, and allow folks to build applications that leverage our platform in unique ways."
Google is just as guilty as several other parties of bringing about the situation we have now. I get the fact that everyone is looking for ways of increasing revenue, but they're doing it at the expense of openness, instead of leveraging that openness (see RSS for example) and building services and added value on top of it.
I hope the death of Reader serves as a wake up call on several fronts.
This is why I use client-based, open source RSS readers like Newsbeuter, and will not be moving to any web-based reader, no matter what features they have or how concerned they claim to be about privacy.
That said, if I had to use a web-based service, I'd much rather use one that claimed to have a commitment to privacy than one that didn't. So kudos to you for that.
 - http://www.newsbeuter.org/index.html
I had never talked about the system itself, but its about to hit early ALPHA. Keep posted for the announcement. Note that those who signed in as ALPHA users get a hacker account with access to the first APIs.
I'm pretty sure this project will not become huge. But it will get a of us thinking about making more open systems.
The open source world seems to get so fractured, even among projects that seem to be aiming at solving the same problem, that none ever gain enough traction to reach the goal with any kind of success.
I wish you luck on your project, but I hope you will look at those that have existed before yours (e.g. Diaspora), and those that are taking a new approach (mentioned above).
EDIT to add references:
I appreciated this line and found it endearing. Thanks for spending time on this project; I look forward to seeing what you've come up with.
This is a more general problem and (I believe) it will become more important in the coming years.
That said, I understand that sometimes externally controlled and centralized services can provide features and convenience at the expense of user control and privacy.
I care enough about my privacy, and aware enough of the alternatives to choose to tend to choose privacy over features and convenience (when I'm faced with such a choice).
I know a lot of users don't care about their privacy, don't realize how loss of privacy could impact them, or don't know that there are alternatives. So they often choose to use "free" web services that give them some features or convenience (or just because all their friends use it, etc.).
This is unfortunate, but hopefully as more people become computer literate, the media exposes more cases of privacy violations, and more people become victims of identity theft, internet stalking, harrassment, and discrimination based on their computer and internet use habits, they'll start to wisen up and care more about privacy.
I only hope that by then it won't be too late.
> "I don't see why an RSS app that resides 100% on a mobile device couldn't sync directly with another RSS app that resides 100% on your home computer or your work computer. No external RSS service necessary."
How would my phone know what I'd read on my computer if I'd already left the house? Of course, it's possible in principle but wouldn't some form of cloud-based co-ordination be necessary in order to make the experience seamless for a user? I'd be keen to know if there's something I've overlooked here.
 I'm working on a set of projects related to it - http://perscon.net (site needs updating but there's enough to give you an idea)
Your phone could just contact your home computer via IP address (or maybe domain name, dynamic or otherwise) your home computer has. Your home computer would, of course, need to be on at the time your phone tries to connect to it (and vice versa).
Another option is to use an intermediary server under your control, like perhaps a VPS host that you'd run some syncing software on, and have both the phone and your home computer sync to that. That way, only the VPS and the machine/phone you're syncing from would need to be on at a time (ie. both your phone and home computer wouldn't need to be on at the same time, if that was a problem for you).
Hopefully will have things worth showing off later in the year.
But now, the smartphone is the always-on computer. And it uses minimal power -- possibly even less power than cloud computing, which is deliberately oversized in order to handle peak loads.
I suspect it's too complicated for non-geeks to figure out, though. There are also certain drawbacks-- for example, your phone has real storage limits, while the cloud can expand without user intervention.
"lack of gener[al] privacy": Wasn't Google the first major webmail provider to provide SSL access (and encourage it)?
"no way to get your data back": http://google.com/takeout
"run by the traditional corporate drone": Would that be Eric Schmidt, who got a Ph.D. from Berkeley in EECS and co-wrote lex ? Or Larry Page, who left Stanford's graduate degree program to be an entrepreneur in 1998?
If Nuuton is worth anybody's attention, you won't need to lower yourself to this kind of post.
All your examples are in the past, except for Takeout, and I would no more put much money on that surviving in a full-strength form (if at all) for the next 10 years than I would Blogger or Keep staying up and active.
Larry Page is still the current CEO of Google.
> Larry Page is still the current CEO of Google.
'Still'? Schmidt was CEO for a large chunk of Google's existence. And yes, Page does seem to be the problem. I'm reading _In The Plex_ now, and maybe it's just me projecting, but Page seems to come off as a autistic asshole with problems and the book speculates it's related to his father's death.
And your comment completely ignores my first point that not actively dismantling past good contributions is very far from demonstrating that they are not turning against hackers.
Unlike Bill Gates and Larry Ellison?
Based on gwern's answer to you, I think s/he is serious.
This may be completely off, but the killing of Reader looks like a desperate move to help Google+: since Google can't kill Facebook, they're willing to hurt themselves instead -- to cut their left arm so that their right arm can grow stronger.
If this is indeed the case, it's very shortsighted.
Does not compute. Google makes its money selling ads. Those ads appear mainly on Google's website, which is very much closed. Nobody knows how Google comes up with search results and why specific ads are shown.
"were there only Facebooks and Twitters there would be no Google Search because there would be nothing to index."
Google existed before social media: before Myspace, before Friendster, even before LiveJournal. When Google started, 'blog' wasn't even a word and Geocities was one of the most popular sites on the web. Social media is still a small part of what happens on the web. But imagine, were there only Facebooks and Twitters, surely Google would be offering ads there.
Were there only closed systems, there would be no way of building a transversal search system.
I would avoid defining a company by its current monetization strategy especially in an industry where monetization is frequently an afterthought (it was for Google).
Furthermore, it doesn't do much to define a company since there are only so many monetization strategies.
What if we'd start defining companies by whether they are "for-profit" or "non-profit" instead? We'd end up with such non sense as "Google is a for-profit company, not an Internet search company." Or with, "B2B" vs "B2C": "Google is a B2B company, not an Internet search company."
If you are going to pick only one thing that defines a company, at least pick something that really makes them stand out (Google - search, Apple - consumer electronics, Facebook - social networking, etc.).
It's not really about effort; it's about the fact that FB & Twitter don't really want Google indexing them.
But let's imagine there would be no way for Google to index the web, then they would find other places to put their ads.
What makes you think they'd be successful in finding such places?
The talk here is of Google's current/primary business model. It is, in fact, based on the open Web as was stated previously.
Sure, they could buy other properties. But that just implies a changing business model (ex: content destinations). For that matter you could extend the argument and say that they might buy Facebook or Twitter.
But the need for them to buy such destinations in order to continue their advertising business actually itself speaks to the closing of the Web.
NOTE: well spiders could technically log in and index public shared stuff, but those services could forbid that via terms and conditions and sue any company violating them
Those were perhaps the good old days. Today's Google makes less and less from ads and more from big data i.e., spying and selling (and trading) ever more extensive information about individuals, business entities, governments and other organizations. This is where the New Google (post "don't be evil") is competing Any service or app that doesn't return it's investment in PII (Personally Identifiable Information), Corporate Espionage (as it used to be called before there was Big Data) or state secrets is at best a loss leader.
Twitter's API is still sufficiently open. There's plenty of data to be had. The limitations and constraints breeds creativity, and we'll finally see new integrations and ideas that do something new rather than simple enhancements and user-annoyance-fixing-as-a-product.
" but the killing of Reader looks like a desperate move to help Google+ "
I'd +1 that.
I'm really not sure you have a good example of a loss of an open ecosystem here. NewsGator's plans were to pretty much create the equivalent of the (unofficial) Google Reader API, which, while not replacing RSS (the actual open format), does notably reduce its role. Moreover, for those who apparently don't remember, NewsGator actually did release their API. The API and their free reader software is what they shut down in 2009.
You can blame that on Google, who did indeed retain the lion's share of users, or you could blame the self defeating business plan of providing a completely open API for free even while it costs money to run. A NewsGator API is not a loss in terms of a loss of an open ecosystem (and Bloglines was definitely not a loss).
If you want open, you need a real federated protocol. Like RSS.
Meanwhile, this article says "RSS industry" in the headline, but it's about nothing like that. The author says it himself: "No, Google Reader’s real competition back in its early days was not client software but services that aggregated RSS feeds and synchronized them across multiple devices."
You can't embrace, extend, and extinguish services that have no standard format. RSS is doing just fine. What was lost here was a UI and a service, which leaves us with user migration pain and a loss of continuity of history (due to indefinite feed history).
We'll likely always need some services. Yes, I can run a feed aggregator on my home machine, but it's kind of a waste, and not everyone has stable IP addresses they can use to sync across devices. Instead of giving up on services, what we need to learn from this is to make sure the next services we allow ourselves to depend on don't have control of our history, both individually and collectively. Notably Facebook, Twitter, and G+ don't fit this bill, or fit it only partially.
(Unfortunately, our collective history on those services is complicated by visibility/access by person controls, so maybe there isn't a perfect solution. I know I can use takeout to download my posts on G+, for instance, but what about my comments on others' posts, and what about those posts themselves as context for my comments? And what about the major news of the day, even if I didn't comment?
Sigh...we need a modern usenet...)
If an API is the sole source of a service, and, even worse, if it's the sole source to access data that users put into a system (e.g. feed history for essentially all feeds, facebook posts, etc), you're totally dependent on that API making enough money to justify its existence based on the whims of the people who make that decision. Luckily there's google takeout this time, but some data is still being lost. One benefit of usenet was that everyone could have a copy of everything, though there's many privacy tradeoffs there (in the modern social networking sense).
Anyway, it's not really a novel argument, just the same "dangers of monoculture/single-point-of-failure" point that has been made many times.
Hold the phone. Did they actually try to make money that way?
Google docs as a consumer use case isn't bad - hopefully you have the brain to know how to get all your drive content and switch when they eventually kill Google Docs as not profitable enough.
The problem is the business use case - and this comes from the popularity in the consumer space. The collaberative features of docs/drive is even more applicable in a workplace environment, and if businesses that hire "less technically inclined" people and have to hand hold them into getting used to it, and are presented with a demand to switch, the transition overhead would be massive.
It is actually a strong business interest to use FOSS because I bet it would cost less to get a junior developer to manage a fork of an old interface / feature that was depreciated in mainline and keep the security up to date than it would cost an actually big business to switch their entire software suite away from a depreciated closed product / one that radically shifts.
I never understood the hate myself, LibreOffice and Old Word have one of the worst uis out there. It's like the Geocities of productivity software.
Same reason no one wants to even try Windows 8.
EDIT: FWIW, I use Windows8 and think it's superior to 7 in almost every regard :\
Okay, so even with Reader being this good, the RSS protocol was still dying because most people have moved on to other ways of consuming news. So then if RSS didn't have a reader that was this good, then it would've probably died a lot sooner, and Google Reader actually prolonged its life. Without Google Reader, RSS might have died 2 years ago.
So I don't know what's with all this "Google killed RSS". Google didn't kill RSS. Twitter, Facebook and RSS' "geekiness" that made sure it never crossed that "chasm" into mainstream usage (and what doesn't grow will probably die, as nothing is constant) are what killed RSS.
As a side note, I'm someone who consumes a lot of news every day, yet I still found a service like Reader to quickly become overwhelming, and I've barely used it occasionally. As we've seen, many of these journalists actually had thousands if not tens of thousands of unread news stories in their Reader, which I think is also why not that many people were using it. It felt overwhelming.
If you ask me, it's the combination of browsers and websites not properly exposing the existence of RSS that has stunted its growth.
Firefox used to have a button for subscribing to any RSS feeds it found in a webpage in the navigation bar. It was the only browser that did it (EDIT: that I was aware of - others have pointed out Safari also had this feature for a while), and it was a fairy obscure button too. Then they removed that.
So now you actually have to hunt for the RSS feeds - and since many webpages use a gif saying "RSS" (meaning text search is useless) that isn't always easy.
It's not difficult to use at all, but it is certainly a very obscure feature of the internet. That halts adoption.
I'm pretty sure Safari did this as well - it was removed in Mountain Lion.
There are lots of decent external apps, but I'd guess that most of today's web audience prefers consuming in the (already familiar) browser. Seems the situation might be a golden opportunity for someone who's got the chops to take advantage.
That said every single blog I've ever seen has a prominent RSS button. But that isn't the reason for lack of widespread adoption. It's more to do with the fact that most people aren't dedicated "read this every day" consumers of lots of different blogs. Generally it's a small handful which isn't what RSS caters for.
If the current page is a blog, and you want to subscribe to the blog in your RSS reader. (When you go to use the button, it asks you to pick a reader and also gives you the option of making that reader the default choice for the next to you want to use the button.)
Are you saying that a bookmarklet would work just as well?
Any evidence to validate this claim? Popularity of Twitter or Facebook doesn't have to be at the cost of RSS. Even if it was, it doesn't make one more relevant or irrelevant. TV did not kill Radio (at least for everyone).
New applications like Pulse depend on RSS. Many users depended on Google Reader. Now they have to learn a new application. Some of them use mobile apps which are pointing to Google Reader. It is not going to be an easy change.
People are mad for a reason.
Much better services? Name one! (much less "many"....)
These services give me a good chance of discovering things, RSS lets me follow them. As a case in point, there are a lot of things in my RSS feed that I have discovered from HN because one single post from them made it to the front page, but no subsequent one has. But I get to see the updates because I subscribed to their feeds. That subsequent ones haven;t made it to the HN front page is absolutely not a value judgement on their worthiness - unless, as I say, you think 5 same-but-different articles on who said what and to whom at a conference is more important than the infrequent technical article by a researcher.
Careful, you're bias is showing.
Reddit, HN, Facebook, Twitter and G+ are all user-sponsored aggregators. If I see content there, it must have come from somewhere. Where did I find the articles i share on Facebook? On my RSS feed.
One alternative is to follow your websites you like on a social service like Facebook. That's not as helpful as RSS.
- No read/unread tracking
- Depends on news feed algorithms
- Lots of noise
[1. Follow instead of subscribe. 2. Feed instead of RSS, because (a) there's also Atom, and (b) neither "RSS" nor "Atom" are quite as friendly as "feed".]
For curators, there are (yet) no good alternatives.
I think we're going to see a lot of advances with RSS due to the closure of Reader and I'm excited to see those.
It's also not a given that the sync back-ends built in this Never-Reader parallel universe would've matched what would got with Reader in terms of reliability and speed, since regardless of how you feel about them Google infrastructure is best in class.
I even made special folders: Tech Gaggle, Science Gaggle, Politics Gaggle. I skim these when I've got nothing else to read, and it doesn't overwhelm me with things.
A million users isn't a lot at Google scale, but it's by no means dead.
If the death of Google Reader was about RSS, Google could have declared RSS legacy and told people to start using the HTML5 article tag plus a few specific metadata attributes.
But how would that have helpled G+ compete against Facebook? It would have taken some creativity to figure that out, but since many Reader users were keen on sharing it shouldn't have been an impossible problem to solve compared to self driving cars.
Gnus has a brilliant system for assigning a score to postings in all sorts of clever ways. You have the simple stuff, like assigning a negative score to a given person, but you can also do more subtle stuff like scoring up postings that are responses to your own postings. It also has various forms of adaptive scoring.
The score then influenced the ordering of threads, highlighting threads that need your attention and hiding threads and postings that you do not want to see. (Most news readers had a bozo-filter that could do the latter, but which didn't really do any of the former well).
What made Gnus such a great newsreader was that, with the use of scoring, I could spend 10-15 minutes per day getting an overview of dozens of active discussions I was having across a bunch of newsgroups. At one point the total number of postings in the groups I was following was around 6000 postings per day, and it took me mere minutes to get an overview of what had happened that was of interest to me.
The idea of scoring applied to RSS feeds would have been brilliant. It would have made following a massive number of RSS feeds a far more attractive proposition.
I still think that there is an opportunity to revive RSS and make it relevant again, but I would recommend that people interested in RSS readers have a closer look at Gnus first. RSS readers need to do a lot more than just aggregate and display feeds. There are some great opportunities in figuring out how to add scoring in a way users can understand. Also I think that harnessing social to provide additional signals that can be used for scoring would be neat.
Is there an RSS reader today that does any of this?
Web forums, web mail, blogs, and web news sites were definitely a huge step backwards in terms of interface and features.
 - http://pan.rebelbase.com/
 - http://www.mutt.org/
 - http://www.claws-mail.org/
*: Winning means quite many very different things: for example you can win number of users / visits (ability to monetize) vs actual usefulness etc...
I get the feeling though that the issue with RSS was not altogether an issue of uptake or ux.. but more an issue of sites wanting to track their users. If RSS could allow for some sort of phone home (opt out / anonymisable of course) then maybe there might be more of a push from content creators.
Of course, this never really materialized. What we got was ... well, a mess. I think mainly because a lot of people tried to reinvent the wheel and did so badly.
I never saw RSS as something portals would be interested in. (And any time a site's business idea is to keep someone on their site for as long as possible, what you have is, in my opinion, a traditional, late 90s portal).
(Back in the early 00s I worked on web crawlers and to me RSS was interesting because it could have been used to aid us in finding fresh content. I talked to a few site owners back then about why they were so reluctant to add it and the sentiment was largely "we want people to find our content from our front page")
edit:  http://gwene.org/about.php
And, more importantly, it was so easy to follow a gigantic amount of threads and find the information that would likely be of interest to you.
Sure this required good readers and users willing to learn to use these but as a result it was incredibly more useful than what we have today. There were some people who simply geniuses and who were explaining things in great way: it was very easy to assign them good scores so that their interventions would stand out.
What do we have today? Inferior crap like StackOverflow because, supposedly, users would be too lazy to learn to use powerful functionalities.
I'm pretty sure one day we'll get some "Gnus meet StackOverflow" webapp which is going to rock our world. I can't wait for the next big thing because honestly we've made a gigantic step backward.
One of these days, those of us interested in a 21st century Usenet should really get together and make it happen. I never used Gnus (I was more of a trn guy) and I think Stack Overflow is pretty cool, but I do miss the ability to sift through large quantities of high-quality posts using the tools and interface that worked best for me.
The concept hasn't completely congealed in my mind, but some cool features would be: separation of content from interface, great APIs, pseudonymous identity with encryption and signatures, and some sort of a reputation system.
At the pace corporations "innovate", and considering their tendency to dumb-down interfaces instead of providing more advanced features, it might take another 10 or 20 years for them to get anywhere near the features Usenet news readers had 20 years ago.
I wouldn't hold my breath.
Nobody is interested in ways to leak content and users outside their empire, at the contrary.
One day, when the Internet will have transformed in the Amazon-Facebook-Google-Microsoft walled garden we begin to see today, I shall tell tales of how people used to build and run their own web sites and email servers and visit each other's blogs and so on. And how they all let that go, because it was "too hard" and they "didn't have time" to deal with it all.
Ultimately it's us who are at fault. We had it, but gave it all up.
We are giving up our privacy and freedom for illusory convenience and safety, to paraphrase a famous saying.
RSS isn't dying of natural causes. Plenty of small-medium sites are getting orders of magnitude more traffic from Reader than from G+. Google and other major companies are trying to deprecate it in order to replace with their own, tightly controlled, solutions.
My historical love of Google has been directly proportional to my unawareness of Schmidt's privacy philosophy. The man's gone completely insane, and makes a frankly woeful spokesperson.
About G+ I hope more people give it the finger so that Vic Gundotra finally understands that you can only alienate your users so much before they go somewhere else.
Verifying identity is simply submitting a form to Google.
Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy
Jan 11, 2012 at 1:58pm ET by Danny Sullivan
Either Google build accurate rankings, representing real web tendencies and quality, or they lose the search engine market.
There's Bing which is not half bad -- and if Google turns to this artificial G+ scheme, it would be better than Google. And the market is ripe for another newcomer...
It's not hard to make an RSS reader and if you miss Google Reader so much, sign off of HN and make your own, better version. But you won't, because you know that Google is right in their decision to axe the whole thing.
Maybe social network addicted people may not recognize but there is a whole world who use email, instant messaging and other stuff like feeds to communicate, which are very established and not beholden to whims of any single moneymaking scheme.
Feeds are a very simple and open idea. Inability to put a toll booth between the communicating parties doesn't mean feeds are useless or dying. It just means you are unimaginative. Browsers may chose to hide the functionality out of a desire to idiot proof their software but it doesn't mean people who have an attention span more than a goldfish have no other ways to subscribe.
(moreover, you can export your starred stories and several readers support importing them)
As a result I'm checking out alternatives to other Google services. I've been in a Google rut for many years now and it's time to get out of it. It's all good.
On the iPad I like the magazine layout and swiping to mark an article as read. Having fewer articles presented at a time actually has been helping me better focus on each article. And now that I can see more of the article I can better determine whether it's really something I should read. Whereas before I tended to skim the titles and try to weed out articles and figure I'd get to the articles I might be interested in later. To then find out that I really wasn't interested in that article.
But that's me. You might hate Feedly for the exact same reasons I like it. Good thing you have until July 1st to find an alternative that works for you! Good luck!
You can limit the potential damage by publishing a hash precommitment of the archive; then later if you need it, you can provide the archive itself, let others verify that the hash matches the archive, and then any 'edits' could only have been made before the hash was made (which might have been many years ago, whenever an issue or scandal pops up which motivates a look into the archive).
1 - http://mashable.com/2013/03/18/500000-google-reader-users-mi...
But then again, Facebook does the same thing...
Ridiculous. Microsoft works to eliminate the competition, whereas Google is just not supporting it. RSS will not be eliminated due to this decision.
I can read the same set of feeds in Flipboard on my phone, Reeder on my ipad and NNW on my mac.
The people who were building alternative synchronisation systems gave up when Google moved in with Reader; hopefully someone will step in with an alternative now, but there are a LOT of apps that will need to be updated to take advantage of the new system.
Reader did have an excellent "recommended" feature that used some kind of social metrics algorithm. That feature stopped being useful after the G+ debacle, but it could also be a killer feature. I'm sure there are many others.
Google should just donate the Google Reader application to the Apache Foundation or another open source initiative so that others can host their own.
In fact, it was a mistake to shut down the service without also announcing that they were open sourcing it simultaneously. Look at all the bad PR that's floating to the top of HN right now.
They open sourced Google Wave around the same time they shut it down, and that was a far less popular and useful service. It avoided a lot of the bad PR that the Reader shutdown is causing, however.
Anything other than Google search, Android, Google Cars and Google Glass is doomed to extinct, sooner or later.
Either way, RSS "going back to 2006" is not a bad thing for anyone. Companies will roll out products if they think there is a market. Google shuttered Reader but they have products that do similar things. With Google+ you can follow people (equivalent to following personal blog feeds on reader) and blogs/websites with plus accounts(equivalent to following websites with feeds on reader). The bright side is with g+ you get more interactivity. I always wanted to comment on posts in a feed without having to visit the website or blog. The dark side is with g+, content and delivery both will be tied to one single service(with RSS atleast your content will still be available after reader dies in july).
Google currents is doing something similar to reader too. The difference is the lock in and the magazine like feel. Then there is Keep.
So perhaps RSS or atleast the idea behind it is not dead yet. Perhaps Reader wasn't making any profit or perhaps Reader was eating into the potential success of Google's other offerings and so it was killed.
Just imagine if instead of killing them, they somehow entertwined Reader and Sidewiki...
People easily forget ads are Google's main product that provides them he bulk of their revenue.
* Sharing amongst other Google Reader users
* Smart sorting of feed items
* Marking as read
* Indefinite retention on feed items
Most of these, by themselves, are not hard to replicate (maybe the sorting is, indefinite historical archive definitely is if you haven't already started), but all these "extensions" to RSS/Atom parsing, so to speak, were exposed via an (albeit undocumented) API that spawned a whole ecosystem of feed readers that rely on it, because a major selling point for the past several years has been "syncs with Google Reader".
The key to the "extend" step is that it has to be done in a way that disadvantages others by breaking interoperation when they used to be able to. Not only did RSS (and Atom) feeds continue to work across all feed reader clients, but you can also export many of the features you list in a straightforward and unobfuscated format (and via API, as you note).
So while yes, potential competitors could replicate those features (just like Netscape could—and often did—replicate IE-specific extensions to HTML and CSS with their own versions), it can't be done in a competitive manner. As a user, if all my feeds, activity, friends, and retention are within Google's infrastructure, there's no point in switching to another solution that provides all those things—or worse, merely sticks to the simple standard of OPML—unless I'm forced to (just like very few people coded to Netscape's implementation because most were using IE).
That's the essence of embrace, extend, and extinguish: adopt a simple standard (RSS, Atom, and OPML), extend it beyond that spec in a way competitors weren't and the specs don't support (the API that adds starring, retention, etc. to the mix of simple feed parsing), then watch as competitors who don't adapt to your new "standard" fail (if you were developing a feed reader and didn't support Google Reader's API, good luck with that).
Besides, Reader API support itself is still just a feature. You would need something like interleaving non-standard entities into RSS feeds for an equivalent to "extend". That is the kind of thing that the phrase refers to, as it fundamentally breaks what is supposed to be a standard that all parties can code against. RSS has continued to work fine.
The closest analog in the browser would be browser sync. It's already becoming a feature that users look for, as it is quite convenient to have your browser history and bookmarks on your phone and computer synced. Soon it will likely be essentially required for a browser to have a sync system if they want to survive in the browser market. So far all of the browsers sync systems are non-interoperable. Are they all using this feature as an effort to extend the standards of the web in a way that disadvantages the other browsers in the hopes of stomping out the competition?
No, and in fact, browser UI behavior is explicitly not standardized to allow that kind of differentiation. The important part is that they can consume and display the web correctly, so that it remains available to all, which leaves them plenty of room to compete on features.
The pedantic distinction you're making—that, in order for it to be an extension it has to be embedded into the original spec and that add-ons don't count—just doesn't hold water either: one of the most prominent cases of EEE was Microsoft's development of ActiveX done allegedly done specifically to break compatibility with the plugin system already in place by Netscape et al.
But more directly, modern browser add-ons aren't EEE because they aren't billed as a spec and no one add-on implementation has become the de-facto standard. Firefox, Chrome, and to a lesser extent Safari all have add-on implementations that are relatively competitive with each other.
Features implemented as part of an EEE strategy are always billed as "just a feature". But they have real consequences to a competitive marketplace. This is why the loss of Google Reader is so impactful: companies like Feedly—who is still just working on a Google Reader API-compatible implementation of sync and other Reader features—now have only a few months to fill the void that everyone in the space took for granted for years.
ActiveX is actually a pretty bad example, as it was outside of web standards and only has impact because of the close ties to the OS and the advantage Microsoft therefore got there. It is therefore a pretty good example of some of Microsoft's lower level anticompetitive acts, but it's a poor example of "embrace, extend, and extinguish" (even if only for the fact that NPAPI was itself essentially being made up as Netscape went along at the time).
No, the canonical examples of the phrase, coming from US v Microsoft itself, refers to Microsoft's attempts to make Sun and Netscape irrelevant when it came to Java and the web, respectively. The plan was to embrace the standards of each, bringing support in as core OS features, and then literally extending the standards with new APIs, tags, etc to add features that developers would want. This would put pressure on those companies that in time they might not be able to keep up with (or they would spend all their time reimplementing Microsoft's features and lose their images as the trailblazers) because the formerly-standardized content they used to be able to consume with their programs would become unreadable and/or unrunnable without the extensions. What's worse, Microsoft often designed APIs that were closely aligned with Windows APIs, specifically to make it easy to implement there, and difficult to implement efficiently elsewhere.
In other words, they broke the standards in a way that if you didn't implement the extensions, you couldn't consume the content that was supposedly compliant with that standard. You aren't adding a feature that users want and so other clients need to compete, you're adding features to the content standard so that other clients cannot function without them, and you're doing it while pretending loudly that your extension is just part of the standard.
So, no, a service that makes the client better and that users soon demand does not fit the bill (and, again, we're talking about an API specifically existing for making it easier to interoperate on those features). Yes, it had a market impact in that many users wanted support in any feed reader, and, now going away, there will be a loss of functionality if someone doesn't reimplement it. That's often the way with features. But it's a poor analog for the actions of monopolists past.
Everything to spin a drama, I guess...
Come one, I think that 8 years is a very long time in the (online) IT world. It was pretty obvious that RSS wouldn't be something for the long-run anyway.
It is not age that is the problem, it is RSS itself. RSS is just not a good solution in the long run because, amongst other things, we a. get better and better at parsing language, which makes a separate protocol unnecessary and b. we, right now, are more into cloud based news delivery, think links on twitter, etc.
More semantic alternatives to HTML (like HTML5, but good) will also make things like RSS useless.
Yes, it was unfair to their users that they were left out suddenly. But I am sure they will find good alternatives.
If anything, all this buzz may be bringing new people to RSS.
By all means enlighten me as to a suitable replacement. I think people forget that Google Reader was an API as well as a client.
I thought the whole point of RSS is that it's decentralized. Feeds don't have to come from a single source and no one client is needed to view them.
One could argue that the demise of Reader is the best thing to happen to RSS in along time as this supposedly decentralized and decentralizing standard became too reliant on one vendor.
Is it really Google's fault that RSS was overshadowed by the emergence of social networks to the point that it doesn't make economic sense for them to keep maintaining it?! I don't’ think so.
Neither is it a commentary on standards, it’s merely a company that is acting in its own perceived interests, something companies are wont to do.
As for the “Industry” part, last I checked those who are actually building a Reader replacement are delighted with opportunity:
When a writer this associated with Microsoft starts framing this situation as yet another flimsy accusation of anti-competitive behaviour, I tend to be skeptic.
I'm overjoyed that yet another for-profit corporation is out of this segment of the internet market. If it gets some former Google Reader users move to client-based, open source RSS readers, that makes for less spying on users and more privacy; and the more decentralized the net gets, the better.
I really do need a service, online, that maintains my feeds updating and viewing, so I can sync them across devices. Problem is everyone I've looked at either doesn't provide a mobile client (and I've become way too used to google reader's flick right to next article for webcomic reading) or has some stupid browser plugin like feedly that breaks webpages for me. They also provide way too much of the social nonsense - I just want a web sync of feeds and views, plus some favorites feature.
A lot of the so-called journalism I see today is fact-free, thinly-sourced advocacy posing as news. Its nice when writers do a bit of legwork and put some meat on their reporting.
Disclosure: not associated with ZDNet or Ed Bott. :-)
Actually zdnet is a pro-MS propaganda medium.
Who does seriously take this junk seriously?
There may a lot to criticize about Google's move regarding RSS but posting links to zdnet isn't helping the cause.