I’m willing to bet that very few people were using Google Reader’s web interface. I mean, given a choice, would you do so?
Then why the hue and cry from across the web?
Because tons of people were using Google’s back-end systems as a way to manage and synchronize their RSS news feeds, and then feeding that information into dedicated desktop clients and apps like Reeder, NetNewsWire, and Feedly.
As such, it’s not that Google Reader had no users. It’s that Google got stuck running a warehouse full of servers that delivered information and not web pages. Since they weren’t web pages, there were no eyeballs looking at them, and as such Google had no way to serve up ads and monetize the service.
It’s said that a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. That’s Google Reader. It ate up dollars, servers, storage and bandwidth, but provided little to no compensation in return.
So they sank it.
Digg, Feedly, and the other players who’re now planning to step into Google’s shoes need to realize this, and determine just how they’re going to get paid for their services.
Otherwise, like Google, they’re going to end up owning a very expensive boat.