I really think Google underestimated the Google Reader audience when they decided to shut down the popular RSS feed reader.
Sure, Google Reader didn’t have a growing audience. Sure, RSS is never going to be something the masses adopt. But Google Reader was the favorite tool of the very vocal, alpha geeks.
Us power geeks used Google Reader to manage our feeds, curate information and data and used its index as a valuable story archive. We wrte stories from this process and built massive mainstream audiences over the last 6 years. We are the curators, bloggers and geeks that deliver messages to the masses.
This summer we aren’t just looking for replacements for our Google Reader. We are looking for replacements for our Google Docs, Feedburner, Analytics and even Gmail and Calendar.
We emailed stories via gmail, wrote stories in gDocs, we make appointments and meetings from RSS triggered events in gCal, we quantify our reach with Feedburner, we measure our success with gAnalytics.
Many of us have heavily invested in Google platform. We are the word of mouth that made Google Apps a viable platform for companies to adopt, and got the word out about Google products when they were new and exciting. We are the early adopters and the channel to a mainstream audience.
With losing Google Reader, we didn’t lose faith in a single product. We lost faith in the Google approach. We will never drink the free Google kool-aid again.
We Google Reader users, may have looked like a small budget line item on a spreadsheet somewhere, one that didn’t warrant keeping the lights on. But Google has severely underestimated the amplification power of this audience and its value to the overall Google marketing vehicle.
There is no way to recover from this, and it is something you will feel the painful effects of for a while to come.