The Economist has yet another wonderful article about the larger issues surrounding Google shutting down Reader:
Google has asked us to build our lives around it: to use its e-mail system (which, for many of us, is truly indispensable), its search engines, its maps, its calendars, its cloud-based apps and storage services, its video- and photo- hosting services, and on and on and on. It hasn’t done this because we’re its customers, it’s worth remembering. We aren’t; we’re the products Google sells to its customers, the advertisers. Google wants us to use its services in ways that provide it with interesting and valuable information, and eyeballs. If a particular Google experiment isn’t cutting it in that category, then Google may feel justified in axing it.
But that makes it increasingly difficult for Google to have success with new services. Why commit to using and coming to rely on something new if it might be yanked away at some future date? This is especially problematic for “social” apps that rely on network effects. Even a crummy social service may thrive if it obtains a critical mass. Yanking away services beloved by early adopters almost guarantees that critical masses can’t be obtained: not, at any rate, without the provision of an incentive or commitment mechanism to protect the would-be users from the risk of losing a vital service.
Read the full article @ TheEconomist.com.