Goodbye Reader and iGoogle

In less than 1 week Google will retire a product I have been using for years. This will be followed in November with another very useful product clocking off for the last time. This is all depressing and all very disconcerting. Is this the price of free?

Google this year will celebrate 10 years of adwords, their original product that turned a search engine into a multibillion dollar corporation. Adwords is the clever way google sells advertising to its users based on their search terms. So if you’re looking for details on how’s the best way to clean the oven, then Google will offer you your search results and results paid for by over cleansing firms.

It revolutionised the advertising industry online. No longer were adverts passive flashing banners, they were now tailored to suit individuals and importantly you only paid when someone clicked through to your brand or site. No wasted cash advertising to the wrong people, so no oven cleaners to students for example.

Over the last decade Google has gone on to launch a number of products that have shaped the online world. With free email, free online office packages and increasing its search to include news and images. Throw in the number one selling mobile operating system and you can see Google is pushing it’s reach.

Of course there is always a “but”, they have made mistakes as with any company. They have made products which were never used or poorly constructed. Yet for every dud there is a Google Reader, Android or Maps. Products which are used daily by millions of people but (there’s that word again) as a Google user, you’ve not paid for these services, what’s to stop them from being taken away.

This is the issue I face currently. In less than 2 weeks Google Reader will vanish, and in a few months iGoogle with go the same way.My three main Google products (besides seach) are Google Reader, iGoogle and Gmail.

For those of you who don’t know Google Reader is an online cloud storage of all your site feeds. So there is no need to keep visiting the BBC or The Oven cleaner’s blog to check for new contact it is delivered to you in your reader via RSS (Really simple syndication).

iGoogle is similar but instead of an app, it’s a website, with your feeds all laid out in front of you, each feed customisable and moveable. So you create a start page to the internet with the information you require not what MSN or Yahoo think you need.

I would consider myself an early adopter of Google products (and a bunch of others, you should see my mailbox, stuffed with newsletters from weird named sites I have no clue as to what they do or why I joined). Yet as my 2 beloved products go, I am starting to doubt I will be an early adopter again. I have put my heart and soul into these products for them to be removed and with no viable alternative on the horizon, I feel lost.

The other trouble is they were free, I handed over no cash for the use of these products. I haven’t spent my own money making them what they are. I admit they will have had the use of my personal data, what sites I follow and what sites I click, but that’s small potatoes when it comes to free.

So what am I to do in the next few weeks. Just wait and see if a new similar services pop up. I know there will be issues as my work are insistent on using WinXP and a very old internet explorer, which will not work with the vast majority of decent sites. I guess I will have to find new ways to keep in touch with the world around me. Maybe even visit websites one at a time.

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