Google Reader and the Tension Between Users and Customers

Don't confuse one for the other.


Google is killing Reader, its RSS aggregator. Count me among those disappointed with the decision. As an avid Reader user, I’ll have to find an alternative–and relatively soon. (Netvibes seems to be the most promising so far.)

Note that, with Reader, I’m a user, not a customer. It’s a big difference that many of us often choose to disregard.

The Economist ran a thoughtful piece on the matter, citing how Google is providing a de facto utility for many of us–although the company is hardly a nonprofit. Perhaps Google will ultimately suffer for yanking popular products. Maybe in the future people will be less likely to use Google’s latest web services and apps for fear that they will one day go away.

There’s a big difference between a user and a customer.

That may very well be, but I certainly can’t blame a company for deciding not to support something that it essentially gave away. Truth be told, I would have paid a reasonable amount per year to use Reader. I doubt that I’m alone here. Google’s top brass ostensibly ran the numbers and decided that the costs of supporting Reader exceeded its benefits. Maybe Larry Page hopes expects people to get their news from Google Plus instead.

Simon Says

Whatever the reason, never confuse being a user with being a customer. The two could not be more different.

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