You never know when Google will pull the rug out from you. Google Currents, Google Wave, iGoogle, Google Video (replaced by YouTube), Google Bookmarks Lists, Google Friend Connect, Google Gears, Google Search Timeline, Knol, Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C), Aardvark, Google Desktop, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Pack, Google Web Security, Image Labeler, Google Notebook, Sidewiki, Subscribed Links, Google Flu Vaccine Finder, Google Related, Google Sync for BlackBerry, mobile web app for Google Talk, One Pass, Patent Search, Picasa for Linux, Picasa Web Albums Uploader for Mac and Picasa Web Albums Plugin for iPhoto, and all Slide products. (thanks to Tech Crunch’s Sarah Perez)
And now Google Reader. This hits me personally, because I’ve used RSS readers for years: Feed on Feeds, my own MonkeyChow, Fever, and finally now on Google Reader. If you’re not familiar with RSS, it aggregates all the web sites you follow, into one place to read them all. Websites you would have forgotten about, but really need to see, are all there. I use Google Reader, and most of my extensions in Safari, including one I wrote, deal with Google Reader in some way. I use it for personal use, and to keep up with work related news and alerts. It’s important to me, and really that’s where I get my news. I’m not big on watching network news anymore, having gained a huge distrust of the media networks controlled by the extreme left and the extreme right. Instead, I get my news from you. From things you tell me in one form of social media or another: of the people, by the people, for the people.
I understand that its free, and I never compensated Google for their time on the product, the expense of checking web sites every 5 minutes to see if something has updated for me, or paid any of their employees’ salaries. In reality, however, they really only need to check once for the million or so subscribers that would otherwise individually be hitting web sites. And the database needn’t really even be that big. From experience, running my own RSS reader, the mySQL database never broke 1GB for all my feeds. On Google’ servers, they have the same copy of the RSS article that I do, so if my database never took more than 1GB, then another person with the same identical feeds would still be accessing that exact same <1GB database. So we know that there are more blogs out there than the almost 400 I subscribe to. Let’s get crazy and say there are 100,000 times more blogs out there that Google might be carrying. Note, that only the most popular blogs post very frequently, so mediocre blogs (like mine?) would take less space. But let’s just assume they’re all Gawker/Slashdot/Space.com volume blogs. In that case, those 100,000 high volume blogs would be taking up 100TB of space. I have a feeling that’s a lot considering it’s RSS, mostly text, highly compressible, but let’s use that crazy number. To give some perspective, the company I work for is small, we have more than 4 times that much space, and 100TB easily fits in one rack. Google uses commodity hardware which would cost very much less than the $30k or so it would cost to set up a commercial SAN with SATA drives. (Someone float me $200k and maybe I could turn out a really awesome RSS reader service!) Are you telling me that Google has trouble finding money and resources to run this? What could Google’s reason be for killing this popular service? I’m hoping someone from Google can correct or confirm my numbers, and clarify
I feel that the loud outcry of NOOOOOOOOO you heard across the landscape when Google announced this, was due to the large number of sysadmins, like myself, that use the service to condense the web into one aggregated river of information. Although, Google would do us a great disservice in killing this, we would get around this by finding or creating the next best RSS reader service. It would be one less Google product in wide spread use. But you don’t mess with a sysadmin. We will remember this. And whether Google changes their mind or not, the next shiny Google product might not look so bright. Who knows when it will disappear as we are using it? They are tainted.
This is my friend’s take on the matter…