I have to say, John Paul Titlow at ReadWrite hits it on the head with this article about the reported July demise of Google Reader (though I can't help wondering if its death might still be somewhat exaggerated at this early stage):
Can We Trust Google?
There's something unnerving about a service you use every day disappearing, even if the decision has perfectly sound business rationale behind it. It reminds us that the Web isn't ours and that the existence of these products is totally dependent on the whim of some corporation, which can pull the plug at any time. We have no say in the matter.
Shutdowns like this force people to reevaluate their relationship with their favorite places on the Web. It makes those relationships feel less secure. And as Techdirt wisely points out, it should make us all wary of relying to heavily on a single provider for our online existence.
It makes us wonder: if five years down the road Google decides that Gmail isn't making enough money, will they kill that too? Probably not. What about Google Calendar? What will be on the "spring cleaning" list in 2017? We have no way of knowing...
Things like this make Google look less humane, less compassionate. It might not have been huge, but there was a very dedicated community of users on Google Reader. Shutting the lights out on all those people, even if they do have viable alternatives, just makes it feel like Google doesn't give a damn. It seems arrogant.
Titlow makes another useful point: Google never tried to monetarise the Reader, seeming not to notice how addicted its users were and how much data it was populated with. Also he notes the reader's importance to many people he would have considered 'non-tech' - "journalists, bloggers, scientists, artists and people who prefer to follow local news and blogs via feeds".
He ends on an optimistic note, announcing his hope that something innovative will arise to take its place. There are several good links to ongoing discussions in this post, which I'll read later.
Having spent quite a few empty minutes waiting for Newsblur to load over the last few days, I do wish I felt quite so blithe about it all. The best option for me seems to be to export to a couple of services, and keep an eye on how both are performing.