Without deluding their accomplishments with a grandiose recap of company history, Google has transformed the way people use the Internet. Think about it. With innovations through Google Glass and Google Voice, as well as through other services like Maps, Reader, Plus, Gmail, Drive, etc., the company has truly reinvented how we access, receive, and store Internet based information. Subsequently, Google has introduced some truly unique and unparalleled services. For example, in December of 2010, the company released the RSS reader, Google Reader. An RSS Reader collects various news headlines under one platform. That being said, Google Reader enables users to view and manage news websites/topics of interest from place. From here, new information comes directly to the Reader as soon as it’s posted; therefore, users don’t have to keep up with various sites. Instead, everything is collated in one place. Now, however, in an effort to clean up the number of services being offered, Google is killing their Reader platform.
With this, a vacuum has formed. The Reader was (and still is until July 1st) one of the primary tools used by many to receive news and information. Regardless, the company has decided to move on. That being said, many companies have now begun to push their existing Readers—for example, Feedly. Separate from this, many other companies have announced work on developing or their own version—i.e. social news website, Digg. While many other services have (and will continue to) spring up, Digg is looking to take the mantle from the soon to be deposed Google Reader. Yet, with a ton of websites already offering Reader platforms, how can new companies like Digg mobilize a fresh and appealing service?
Unlike competitors, Digg looks set to truly take advantage of Google’s lapse. While some push their existing platforms and other rush new ones out, Digg plans to study Google’s Reader inside and out to truly understand and map out all of its strengths and weaknesses. Once done, the company will then apply what it’s learned and create a new reader. “We’ve heard peoples say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we’re convinced that it’s a product worth saving. So we’re going to give it our best shot,” said Digg’s Andrew McLaughlin. With that said, Digg is looking to step up and carry the torch. For example, in looking to emulate/expand on Google’s model, Digg’s reader will sync data with existing programs—i.e. Flipboard. Yet, with all this effort, is it really worth it? Based on McLaughlin’s comments, yes, but what can users truly gain from this resurgence of RSS Readers? The answer is more.
Sure, in its current state RSS Readers may not appeal to a whole lot of users; therefore, providers currently offering these types of readers can’t really hope to expand all that much. In contrast, Digg has a unique advantage. In studying the existing platform as well as the market of user needs, the social news site can redefine the functionality and offerings of a Reader, as well as expand upon them. Though this notion is easy to dismiss, think for a second. Before Google Maps, many users used services like Mapqeust and Rand McNally. Now, both those services, despite their struggles to remain relevant, have ultimately become relics. With that, is it such a stretch to think that Digg’s reader may do this? Definitely not! Digg’s reader can include new features previously not offered, or expand on what is currently offered. For example, more interactive homepage, greater mobility, notifications, social network integration, etc. The list is exponential.
Much like the boom with VoIP technology, competition means one thing for users—more. As user wants and demands become more apparent, companies will work to expand and refine their service to cater to these needs. While this is great, users/interested parties are required to sift through more alternatives to find the best option. Though this may be more time consuming, it is definitely worth it. Increased competition churns expanded usability, features, and usage; therefore, users have a lot to gain. Another potential risk is that with expansion, companies outstretch themselves. For example, with VoIP many service providers are actively expanding their roster of services. While some can manage the growth, others end up outstretching themselves—cutting quality, reliability, or other areas of service. Also, with more available users will need to know more to thin the heard. Despite this, users ultimately stand to gain the most. RSS Readers may seem outdated, but in reality it may just be time for an overhaul. As Google’s Reader winds down, Digg and other companies are gearing up to fill users’ needs, whatever they may be.
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