Monday, October 31, 2011

How the Google Reader changes are adversely affecting FriendFeed

It's finally arrived.

Not too long ago, Google announced some changes its segment-leading feed consumption engine, Google Reader. Google Reader was going to get a brand spiffy new look that aligned with some of Google's other products, and Google Reader users were also going to get the capability to share things with their Google+ buddies.

Oh, and there was (quoting Google's arch-enemy) one more thing:

As a result of these changes, we also think it's important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader's social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week's time we'll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.

And some people are not pleased about this. Here's something that Jesse Stay wrote back on October 20:

Dear Google Reader team, as one of your most active Google Reader users, I will no longer use Google Reader if you remove friends from the service. It completely loses its purpose for me. To me, it was a way to get news from my friends and guarantee I got it. There is no equivalent service on Google right now. Please don't remove my friends from Google Reader!

Now I'm a long-time Google Reader user, and I get a lot of my blog post ideas from things that I see in Google Reader. But let me let you in on a little secret - when I have over 1,000+ unread items in my feed, the shared items from other Google Reader users are one of the first things that I mark as "read." So most of my actual reading in Google Reader is from feeds that I explicitly selected on my own. And I don't know that I share as much stuff as I used to - frankly, when I shared items, I usually received more comment on FriendFeed than I did on Google Reader itself.

So I wasn't quite sure how these Google Reader changes were going to affect me. Early this evening, however, I was able to take the new Google Reader for a spin. Other than the change in appearance, it's almost identical to the old Google Reader - with one exception: instead of having the "Share" or "Share with note" buttons, there is now a "+1" button. I plus-one'd a few things (including some things from my friends' shared feeds from before the change). That's when I noticed something.

But I wasn't the first person to notice it. Over a week before the new Google Reader was implemented, Jesse Stay saw something down the horizon. Here's one of the questions that Stay asked back on October 22nd:

What think ye? With Google Reader native sharing leaving the service, is this the end of Friendfeed as well? I know that's one of the last things populating Friendfeed for me.

This is what I observed today. The things that usually would have shown up in FriendFeed are now showing up in my Google+ feed.

So then I began looking at the other things that I send to my FriendFeed feed. Some of them, such as Google Reader shares and Twitter tweets, no longer work. Nothing comes from YouTube, because YouTube permanently disabled my account and won't let me talk to anyone about it. But posts from all of my blogs still show up on FriendFeed, and my Disqus comments show up on FriendFeed, and the songs that I like on and Pandora still show up on FriendFeed (well, when I log into Pandora, that is).

Now what are the chances that or Pandora would change their systems so that you would +1 songs rather than sending your likes to an RSS feed? As far as I can tell, those chances are pretty slim.

But there is YouTube - well, not for me, but for you. Perhaps YouTube will be the next Google property that turns off the RSS feed capability and only allows +1's instead.

While I as a user might not like it, I realize why Google is doing this. Google's customers are its advertisers, and Google therefore has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders to get as many eyeballs in front of ads as possible. And to do that, people need to be directed inward toward the Google silo. Competitors are trying to keep people within the Facebook silo, or the Twitter silo, or whatever.

And this certainly affects Google+, because someday there will be some form of advertising on Google+. Maybe it will be on the side of the feed, or maybe it will be "sponsored" posts within the feed. My feed already contains the occasional alert to the really popular item, so it's really simple to use that same functionality to bring you the latest sponsored post from someone.

So don't be surprised if Google's actions inadvertently kill off FriendFeed. (And it should be noted that Facebook is doing its part to kill off FriendFeed as well.)
blog comments powered by Disqus