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Understanding the position you are explaining doesn't make the shutdown of Google reader any less regrettable or irritating.

It's my impression that it's a little bit cliché and borderline to trolling: every time a "free" product is shutdown and people complain or discuss about it there is a good free-market capitalist soul coming with condescending comments about how people shouldn't expect anything when given something for "free".

We know it. It's still pissing users off. Deal with it.

For the users who valued it, google reader had the ability to keep them hooked into the google website for long periods of time, dozens of visits per day per person.

I would think those characteristics would allow some kind of monetization via ads etc. I assume google looked at the numbers and saw that is not the case, and not simply at user growth. Cash cow vs growth vehicle kind of thing.

If i had to guess, it seems likely that RSS reader users are more likely to have ad-blocking enabled and less likely to click on ads if they see them. perhaps google wants to skew towards the more easily misguided.

I agree, but its not (directly) about the ads, its about the profiling. The benefits of profiling infovores should not be underestimated, especially when they are Google's core users (and the ones who spread the word).

Ultimately, if people log in less, and contribute less to the Knowledge Graph (crowd sourcing production of meta-data had to be worth something, after all) then its a net loss.

Google's experiments may cause them to believe this not to be the case, but the trouble with ruthless, consistent optimisation of individual features is that it tends to land you in a local minimum, which may not be the best end game for them.

Extend and extinguish is not a business model I appreciate.

I don't think my position is any closer to trolling than the also cliche comments of 'Google have so much money, running reader must be next-to-nothing for them', 'if Google gave me the option, I'd gladly pay for it', 'yeah sure, the (maybe) one full time staff required to look after Reader is really taking energy away from other projects' which is basically all of the comments on these threads.

That was what my post was meant to refute, and the weird sense of entitlement that Google is somehow in the wrong by killing a product which is a waste of resources for them. There are plenty of alternatives (and I suspect we'll see a whole bunch more over the coming months), complaining like we deserve reader to still be available (when consumer-pays products are clearly outside Google's business model) isn't helping.

The "weird sense" comes directly from Google's pitches, which amount to "use our free service: Trust all your data to it! Nothing will go wrong, we're here forever!".

Which is a pitch they continue to make, with Drive and Hangouts and each successive launch, but never once cautioning "btw if this doesn't work out for us we'll kill the service". They even relaunch previously failed projects in the same spaces where they've pulled this before, with Keep aiming for the same space Notebook (RIP) did. Do they think we're stupid?

They can't have their cake and eat it. They can position themselves as the trustworthy guardians for whom organising the world's information is the only goal, or they can position themselves as the ruthless capitalists where business is the ultimate goal, but they can't do both.

That's what people object to. You can say that they're naive for believing that a business won't put the bottom line first, but Google has always pretended otherwise, right from the first line of the IPO. "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one."

Fine, but then "any conventional company would do this" is not a good enough defence for your actions.

>They even relaunch previously failed projects in the same spaces where they've pulled this before, with Keep aiming for the same space Notebook (RIP) did. Do they think we're stupid?

This gets repeated a lot (understandable given its launches proximity to the Reader shutdown notice) but its inaccurate. Keep doesn't address the same use case as Evernote/Notebook at all and isn't trying to. Its more of a Notepad/Apple Notes competitor if anything.

You make a good point. I do want to point out that typically Google gives plenty of notice, and gives users the option of downloading and backing up whatever data they had stored on their service before pulling the plug. Even now, you can still head to Reader and download your personal data and whatnot, up to 15 days after they turn it off.

I don't like it either, but it's not the same as them just deleting your data suddenly, which you seem to be alluding to.

It's possible to regret the Reader shutdown, and to point out problems with Google's explanations, without also thinking that they were "wrong" to do it. This is pretty much my position. I think it's unfortunate, a strange decision, and Google's explanations don't make much sense. But I also think that they had every right to do it, and don't owe me a transparent explanation, which might reveal too much of their overall strategy. I was careful, of course, to use Reader in a way that would ensure minimal impact on me if it went away; and the week they announced their plans I switched to Newsblur.

If people get pissed off even when companies "do everything right" then companies won't try as hard in the future. Getting other people to accept changes like this from companies helps change the incentive structure so that there will be fewer cases where a free service disappears with no notice or data export.

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