As most people know, Google decided to kill Google Reader in their latest "spring cleaning" on July 1, 2013. While the actual move wasn't a surprise, I think most people expected more of a lead time than 3½ months.

The reasons for Google shutting down Reader are obvious to those that follow them closely. There was no money in keeping it around. Based upon educated guesses, one can assume there were at least a million users, and likely far more than that. The problem is that few of those users were using the website. I believe most were using apps that used Google Reader as a syncing service, thus not giving Google any of the pageviews. They are paying to host a syncing service for others and getting nothing for it. This doesn't help them sell ads, and they can't put ads in other people's apps. A losing proposition for any Google product.

So, what does it take to be successful and make a business out of this? There are two basic options. The first is to charge users money for the service, a novel idea for Google. The second is to lock down your service to only your website and apps, blocking out third parties, which would violate Google's "open" stance. I believe that charging users money is the way.

With that in mind, I'm happy to announce that I am working on such a product. I call it Bulletin.io. I started working on Bulletin.io a few weeks ago after asking if anyone desired such a service on App.net. I received many responses asking that I follow through and make the service. I think the reason was that everyone knew the end was nigh, just not the specifics.

Unfortunately, the shutdown of Google Reader caught us off guard, so we're not quite ready, but we'll be getting there as fast as we can. I'm working with my friend Daniel to get things ready for testers in the next few weeks.

The basic plan is to charge a low monthly or annual fee for access to the service. From there we will have iOS apps and an open API for 3rd party development. Also, based on Marco Arment's post today, we will provide a Google Reader lookalike API, so that existing clients can quickly integrate with us. Community feedback for Bulletin.io, or any service you choose, will be important so that we can build the next generation of RSS services. I'd love to hear from people on ADN or Twitter.

Posted
AuthorMichael Cantrell