The Death of the RSS Reader

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Paid Content reports on the apparently inevitable demise of RSS readers like Bloglines and Google Reader:

“But people no longer seem to be abandoning certain readers for others — or for other ways to access those same feeds. Instead, they appear to be abandoning RSS readers as a way to read the news altogether. Hitwise, for instance, tells us that visits to Google Reader are down 27 percent year-over-year, while visits to Bloglines are down 71 percent year-over-year.”

I agree that, like most long term technologies, RSS is passing out of the hands of the power user and into the consumer realm where it already looks much different than it did only a few years ago. It’s a little sad for me, since I’m a huge devotee of my RSS reader, but ultimately I think its evolution augurs even more exciting things.

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  1. Being connected at the hip to Google Reader, I couldn’t see myself living without it. And while I like the social features they’ve added, it seems like Buzz was what was meant to bring Reader into a Facebook-like environment. With that failed (IMHO), the social features remain rather lowkey.

    Shame. But then, if it were successful that’d just be even more of my content locked away in the belly of a company unwilling to share.

  2. I really cannot think of anything to replace my faithful Google Reader. I’ve been told once that Twitter will replace my RSS feeds, but … no, I can’t use it in the same way: yes, there are lists and tags, but that’s not enough.

  3. My RSS reader is the first thing I check in the morning (I even check it before reading my email). It’s my daily newspaper. If RSS is on the way out, to be replaced with Twitter or whatever, then I’m destined to be like one of those old fashioned guys who thought TV was just a passing fad and only ever listened to the radio.

  4. Could it be that people are using applications for reading news feeds rather than websites that act as aggregators? I think I’ve only been to the Google Reader website twice but I use NetNewsWire every day, on Mac and iPhone.

  5. Even this post I came by because of a RSS-related technology. Namely, Google Reader Shared Items. I am curious, what lead them to such a fabulous prediction? Is it the word “paid”?

  6. Forgive my ignorance but what will replace them as a means to collect and read feeds? Twitter? I don’t see how they’re the same. And I don’t see the upstart tech that’s going to unseat readers in general.

  7. Twitter and social media in general really suck as a news aggregator, since they have a very low signal-to-noise ratio and they often miss single articles.

  8. RSS has always suffered from a lack of 1-clickness. Apps like Flipboard, etc, are showing what can be done, but once the average person gets it, then it can be great.

    I can see why twitter works for some, it is like getting the daily paper, if you fall behind you just ignore it.

    Now what I’d like is a feed reader that aggregates stories about the same thing so I don’t have to read endless repeats. Maybe Fever, but there is just no way I am paying without trying it.

  9. Like Paul, my RSS reader (I’ve been using Rososo) is my morning paper. As far as the reader itself, I have been waiting for something truly interesting to replace the standard RSS reader. I think that area is ripe for the picking.

  10. Hmm. Hard to say if RSS reader use will disappear, but when you consider the amount of sludge and duplicate content being swapped and used and reused across many different websites, you know at least the authors of said websites will continue in the forseeable future to use other people’s content.

  11. Interestingly enough my RSS reader, Google reader, sent me to this page. I cannot imagine giving up my Google Reader. I honestly don’t see this as a trend.

  12. I don’t think RSS is going away, it’s just gone underground. In a menagerie of setup/tools blog posts I have read uber-geeks, and tech leaders seem to use RSS readers. I think there will always be a need for RSS readers, but I am unsure that it will fall in the domain of large companies like Google.

    I am worried that RSS readers are going away,but I keep finding things like http://tt-rss.org/redmine/, and Rososo, cool find I had never seen it before, and great new app’s like Reeder, they seem to go after the consumer RSS, the one that is going away.

    Google Reader seems to be the only one that can handle a power user. Google Reader seems to employ at last count like 6 -10 people, mayby more. It’s a product that doesn’t seem to generate revenue in anyway. If Google Reader drops out, who will be left.

    That is what worries me.

    I need a feed reader that can handle 10 – 20 folders, of 10 – 100 blogs, that updated hourly, and won’t crash on me. Reeder, I love you, but your crash after 10 minutes. I fear I might just have to build my one feed reader.

  13. 2 akatsuki:
    “I’d like is a feed reader that aggregates stories about the same thing so I don’t have to read endless repeats.”
    Actually Liferea merges posts, but only if they are totally identical. Maybe this is not what you are looking for.

  14. Same here. I still use my Google Reader account everyday but haven’t been to the actual website in weeks. Using ReederApp on my iPad/iPhone is a lot nicer.

  15. Finding duplicates has been a running request for almost every RSS reader ever made. I think there are two reasons they don’t do it one. Articles about the same topic, are actually different articles, they contain different opinions. 2, it’s really hard to find articles about the same topic, people have tried, but the machine learning approach almost always leaves something to want.

    There is hope though, I think something like the salmon protocol might help content aggregators to cluster articles that are all about the same thing, but there is something you can do now.

    Edit.

    I try to make sure that my sources are the ones that I like, and that I feel have the best coverage. Sure there is some overlap, but overall if you are getting many, many articles about the same thing you might have to many similar feeds, try cutting back.

  16. RSS is a wonderful and convenient vessel for information but for me I only utilize it through live bookmarks in FirefoxЁ

    If only Safari would have that functionality.

  17. My usage of Google Reader has definitely dropped this past year. It’s use has been supplanted by a combination of the following:

    - RSS feeds on my iGoogle page (that’s how I came to this post)
    - Techmeme.com (tells me what’s most important in tech for the day)
    - Site or person specific Twitter feeds
    - Facebook (I use this less and less, but I’m sure it’s become a major ‘RSS’ reader for a lot folks)

    The first 3 are essential for me, but I did recently go through and prune my subscriptions in Google Reader to make the number of updates less overwhelming every day and easier to skim.

  18. Death of RSS has been predicted before and yet I hear of more and more people using it. I use it to automatically feed posts from my favorite blogs to Twitter. Saves me a ton of time and people see what I am reading. If RSS feeds go away, so will my Twitter posts.

  19. Huh, that would upset me. I consume probably 95% of my web content through RSS. Sure the interfaces of mostly every single reader could be improved. I don’t need social features for anything beyond maybe sharing the link to my twitter, digg or facebook accounts.

    I do like the commenting with Google Reader. It’s nice when I can discuss something with a friend.

    I think the numbers are down because the majority of the internet doesn’t want to read. They just want to link share photos on tumblr. Isn’t the tumblr dashboard, or the twitter follow, posterous subscription, FB wall, etc. all just a different form of RSS anyway? Conceptually it’s the same.

  20. I am having a hard time finding the source for this quote.

    “”Hitwise, for instance, tells us that visits to Google Reader are down 27 percent year-over-year, while visits to Bloglines are down 71 percent year-over-year.”

    I think that you have to pay for access to Hitwise, and somewhere on Hitwise their is a graph, but it doesn’t look like the article attributes the source.

  21. I am a super fan of my google reader. Love it to death. And I’m always looking to obtain more, and then I love cutting out the subscriptions that aren’t up to my par. Reeder on the iphone byfar is my favorite app. The ease of flicking articles, swiping left or right for favorit-ing or marking unread makes the app so easy and logical to use.

    But I don’t think we’re entering the end of the reader. The reader brings what twitter doesn’t and thats expectations of the content. I subscribe to the design cubicle because I know what’s coming out is design related and is informing. I don’t subscribe to it because Brian is going to tell me about his mac crashing on it. I use it for an informative level, Twitter doesn’t give that sense of promise or expectations of it. Twitter is great for social wandering, but doesn’t give me that promise of direct informative materials

    I don’t know what the next level of the reader will be, but I think we’re at a point where just because its not creating tons of buzz doesn’t mean we need to dismiss it. It may actually be so solid right now that we don’t have anything to say for it.

  22. Like other posters here, I use Google Reader daily but access it via other means, like Reeder, Feedly, etc. My feeds are my morning paper, along with a check of the latest on Twitter & FB.

    I think the natural evolution will be more choices like Flipbook, which allow people to create customized magazines, populated with content and images from RSS sources, Twitter, FB, YouTube, etc.