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It’s Been a Year and a Day Since Google Reader Shutdown. Has Anything Changed?

google-reader-logoAlmost 15 months have passed since Google announced that they were shuttering Google Reader, and yesterday marked the one year anniversary of its demise. Mashable was the first to notice the anniversary, and they inspired me to look back and see just how much has changed.

I for one am still reading RSS feeds in much the same way I did the day before Google announced the Readerpocalypse, but while I have stood still the industry as a whole has changed.

In the months following the March announcement, dozens of existing feed readers came out of the woodwork or were launched in response to the news. Everyone from Digg to AOL launched a feed reader (and even Zite and Flipboard made plays for former Google Reader users). Some of the news readers were good, others were bad, but of the multitude only one managed to end up on top.


On the day before the announcement, Feedly had a set of reading themes which were prettier than they were functional, and a service which was dependent on Google Reader. But they had 3 aces up their sleeve; a crack marketing dept, a beta project which would enable Feedly to break free of Google Reader, and the engineering talent to back it up.

In 3 weeks Feedly grew from 4 million users to 7 million, eventually growing to 15 million users and 24,000 paying customers in February 2014 and earning the crown of leading Google Reader replacement.

Feedly took that title because they had the tech and luck, but not all feed readers were as blessed by the demise of Google Reader. Some were unable to cope with the growth, while others were acquired.

The Old Reader, for example, was a niche service with 10,000 users the day before the announcement, and 130,000 users a week later. The team behind that service were left scrambling to keep it functional as it ballooned to 420,000. The Old Reader came perilously close to being shut down before being sold to a new owner which had the skills and funds to keep it operational.

And they’re not the only ones to be acquired; LinkedIn surprised us all when they acquired Pulse in April 2013. But when Flipboard acquired Zite in March 2014, I doubt anyone was surprised. Both of these services had made bids for casual readers, but with over 100 million users Flipboard was by far the larger service.

In the year since they bought it, LinkedIn used Pulse to build LinkedIn’s own internal blogging platform, but they’re not the only one to make a nontraditional play for the attention of readers.

In addition to trying to push readers into finding new content on Google Now and Google+, Google also launched Google Newsstand in November 2013. The new app combined the Flipboard-esque Google Currents with the existing Google Magazines app, giving readers a single place to read both the content they paid to subscribe to and the articles which Google found for them.

Shortly after Google announced the Readerpocalypse, many pundits proclaimed that the end of Google Reader as a sign of the imminent death of RSS feeds as redundant and outdated tech. But a year later and all that I can see that is different is that Zite is now Flipboard, Google Newsstand is now Zite, and Feedly is now Google Reader.

There are also incremental changes, including the increased reliance on robot reporters and and the changes to platforms like Medium as they grow, but those are really incidental to the closure of Google Reader.

It’s been some 15 months since the announcement and aside from the changing of name tags (and the fragmentation of the market among dozens of small competitors), I would say that little has changed in the news reader market. People are still using news reader apps, and some readers are paying for the service (but that’s not new).

Or am I wrong? Tell me, did the end of Google Reader drastically change your reading habits? How do you follow the news?

P.S. If I missed an important event that should have been mentioned in this post, please let me know in the comments.


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George July 3, 2014 um 12:58 am

Hasn’t really changed my readings habits at all. I used Feedly for awhile until their service got too buggy for me, then switched to SilverReader & have been using it since. Works great for me.

Peter July 3, 2014 um 1:09 am

Barring additions and deletions to my newsfeed, the only real changes I’ve made have been to my bookmarks on my laptop and that I’m now using Newsblur’s native client on my phone instead of a 3rd-party app with GReader.

Felix July 3, 2014 um 1:58 am

Luckily for me I had already migrated away from Google Reader — to my own self-hosted application. So not only it didn’t affect me at all, it gave me a reason to be smug. As for pundits predicting the death of RSS… pundits always predict the death of everything. I bet they predicted the death of cinema and radio when TV came along. And the death of the automobile when the airplane came along. And they never learn. Aren’t they cute?

Dave Parker July 3, 2014 um 3:40 am

I don’t think RSS will die, but I have noticed some sites, most notably The Guardian newspaper, has stopped providing full text feeds because they want you to come to the site or use their app.

I’m not going to waste my time clicking through all the time or having to install and run multiple apps.

Chris Meadows July 3, 2014 um 3:42 am

That’s why you make sure you use an RSS reader with an aggregator built in. I use "Press" on Android which lets me double-tap to bring up the complete article in a Readability display. Works on most sites.

Nate Hoffelder July 3, 2014 um 6:56 am

A lot of sites have gone to partial feeds in the past year, yes. The list includes Techcrunch, BoingBoing, The NextWeb, and those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head.

Nate Hoffelder July 3, 2014 um 7:34 am

On a related note, I found a solution to the partial RSS feeds:

Dave Parker July 3, 2014 um 11:06 am

@Chris Meadows – Press looks really good but I’m allergic to spending money.

I’m using JustReader now.

DaveZ July 6, 2014 um 9:57 am

That’s not the only reason to go from full feeds to excerpts… I figure my RSS readers are a fraction of my audience, power users, and "regulars" that I’d like to give the full story to (and I never ran ads in my feed). But I flipped mine from full to excerpt about 2 years ago due to rampant and automated content theft – was spending more time sending takedown notices than writing. The change solved the vast majority of the problem but at the cost of penalizing the folks I wanted to reward. Sucks, but we’re beholden to Google – who penalizes for duplicated content and in some cases the thieves showed up higher in search results than I did as the timing is too close for Google to differentiate.

DaveZ July 6, 2014 um 10:00 am

For evidence, here’s this particular article by Nate on someone else’s site:

Nate Hoffelder July 6, 2014 um 10:03 am

No, that’s actually an entire daily email. Every so often I send DMCA notices to Blogspot, and in the long run I expect to take that site down.

Aside from that site I’m not sure that I’ve really been harmed by scrapers. How would I go about checking this?

DaveZ July 6, 2014 um 10:19 am

Brad had some service I subscribed to for a few bucks a month to help find the scrapers and identify the hosts, it even had some boilerplate letters. But going thru hosts was tedious with many back and forths and sometimes no responses, I ultimately settled on manually Googling paragraphs from my site and using the Google DMCA takedown instead which removes the offending post from searches. However, that only worked some of the time too – when Business Insider swiped like 6 or 7 photos, Google denied my claim of ownership, presumably because I’m little and they’re known. Again, the best solution was to remove my full feed and the bulk of the problem vanished.

Nate Hoffelder July 6, 2014 um 10:37 am

BI swiped your photos? That’s a one-up on me; my most notable swiped content incident was when my photos made their way into a conference paper and presentation at a screen tech conference. I was in the audience at the time, LOL.

In the case of BI I would have asked them where I should send the bill for the use of my photos.

DaveZ July 6, 2014 um 10:23 am

A quick Google search seems to look pretty good. Maybe folks are scraping less or you just have had better luck. I wonder if flipping hosts and such could have also thrown them off the trail.

Nate Hoffelder July 6, 2014 um 10:48 am

Last August I did a sweep and got most of the chronic scrapers to either take down the content or make it not show up in Google Search. As I recall there wasn’t much then either. My biggest problem at the time was tech companies offering feed reader services, not actual scrapers.

I haven’t really bothered to do anything since last August.

Valentine July 3, 2014 um 4:02 am

Tried all those things. Especially early on.
I never believed Google Reader would die, so, my trust for anything similar is already half gone already.
"liferea" is a desktop reader, simple lightweight. Can have any number of feeds and thousands of articles for each feed. Also, you can write filters for each feed. Removing ads, loading the whole page and extracting the article instead of a two line blurb, loading or hiding images, etc.

Felix July 3, 2014 um 11:30 am

Don’t forget loading the article comments from WordPress blogs. 😀 Yeah, I use Liferea as well. But I have so many feeds, it was taking a long time to load them all, especially on machines with not much RAM. So I split my feed list. It’s still the best desktop feed reader.

reichsputin July 3, 2014 um 5:00 am

I ended up using Reedah as the backend, FeedDemon as a Windows desktop client and News+ as Adnroid client.

Guillaume July 3, 2014 um 10:38 am

The end of googleReader was in fact a good thing : it makes me use BazQux, and so I discovered than often comments are a great addition to a post.

Nate Hoffelder July 3, 2014 um 11:04 am

I agree, that feature is a plus It’s also a feature we would probably never have had with Google Reader.

Seth July 5, 2014 um 10:38 pm

I’ve been using CommaFeed since that fateful day and nothing else has changed for me other than the favicon in the tab I have pinned for it.

Matthew Bellissimo August 5, 2014 um 2:28 pm

re: Final Question. On August 04 2014 the NewsReader Splyst Launched changing the world of RSS forever. Don’t believe me? Download it off the app store and see for yourself

15 million die-hard RSS aficionados | One Man & His Blog April 9, 2015 um 8:17 pm

[…] And one that’s not as small as you might think. From a recent post on The Digital Reader, marking the year’s anniversary of the demise of Google Reader: […]

Flowreader April 28, 2015 um 5:50 am

Hi, would love to hear your opinion on a web-based Flowreader from – gives both web news and social accounts feeds.

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