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I'm pretty sure plenty of Reader power users would have been glad to pay for it, myself included.

That would have meant customer support, wouldn't it? Google doesn't do that.

1) You can pay and get no support. You just deal with it. And it the service works OK (and there's nothing challenging about Google Reader workings) then there's nothing much to deal with, anyway.

2) Google does do support for some paid products they have. Like Adwords (of course) and GAE, and IIRC the enterprise Google offerings.

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