Friday, March 15, 2013

There is no good time to lose a solution

Google Reader is going away.  Many fans are upset that they are losing one of the first RSS feed readers.  Some are even warning Google may lose more than what it has bargained for.  Others are busy recommending alternate solutions to the devoted fans.  People are switching.

It is never a good time to lose a solution.  And it's true for everyone.  Users lose because they have to go and find a new product that solves their problem.  They have to learn to use a new product.  Company loses because it is turning users away, however small the user base may be.  Everyone understands how difficult to launch a product and build a user base.  With Google Reader, it is more painful because it had small but dedicated fan base.

From Google's perspective, the decision to kill Google Reader is a strategic one.  It wants to focus its resources to a fewer big bets that it's making.  It makes a perfect sense from corporate strategy standpoint.

But what about users?  Users now have to go and find a new solution because corporate strategy has shifted.  Granted there are many RSS readers out there, it's not the way to lose dedicated fan base.  To the fans, it is a troubling event because they realize how little they meant to Google and what Google can and will do when a product no longer fits their corporate strategy.

Having a small but dedicated user base is something many startups would love to have.  Google Reader has that.  And it's throwing it all away.

Why not donate Google Reader source to open source community?  That way users can continue to use the service if they want to host it on their own, and can be maintained without Google's continued investment.  Instead Google has chosen to kill it all together.

Focus is important.  But what is also important is caring about users.  Especially those dedicated fans.


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