Google Reader closing

This is a tough one to swallow.  I use Google Reader multiple times a day across a number of devices and the web.  Most of the news consumption apps and services I use and love are hooked in to Google Reader in one way or another including, but not limited to Reeder (which I use on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro), FlipBoard (which I use on my iPhone, iPad and Nexus 7), Pulse (that I use on my iPad) and Press (that I use on my Nexus 7).  Each one fulfills a slightly different purpose, and I use them in slightly different ways.

The joy of Google Reader is that it keeps everything in sync across these services.  Read an article on one device, and it’s marked as read everywhere.  It’s also fast, reliable and more important ubiquitous.  Every app you would expect to support Google Reader, supports Google Reader.

Even some services which might, at first glance, appear to be Google Reader competitors use the service in the background.  Some are now scrambling to fill that particular void.

What seems strange is that there’s no real alternative.  Many people are criticizing Google Reader users for becoming overly reliant on a service that’s free and didn’t appear to be magnetized in any serious way.  It’s a very short-sighted view and ignores the reality of business and one of Google’s (and Apple’s) primary strategies.  If a competitor emerged, Google would squash it.  Either through reaching feature parity, or by purchasing the company or simply by virtue of the fact that Google Read could be run as a loss leader.  It’s very difficult indeed to compete against free.  It created an unbalanced market that was starved of incentive to innovate.

There are some alternatives.  Fever is a self-hosted Google Reader alternative that has some unique features but, from what I’ve read, isn’t quite ready for prime-time.  It is supported by Reeder, which is a plus.  And for their part Reeder, who must be almost solely reliant on Google Reader users for the business (and their not the only ones) have responded.

I read this news on The Verge in Google Reader, obviously..