FeedDemon to shut down, but others plan to fight on after Google Reader closes

The exit of Google Reader will bring competition to the market, analysts said.

The ailing FeedDemon RSS reader will shut down after Google Reader is closed on July 1, its creator said. FeedDemon is a standalone RSS reader that can also sync with Google Reader.

But providers of other RSS readers, many of which also offer apps that synchronize with the Google Reader online service, plan to continue.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a way of providing a feed of links to new and updated pages on a website, including either the full text or a summary of the page. RSS readers automatically download the updates and display them in a list, making it easy to follow a collection of news sites and blogs and keep track of which ones have been read, without having to visit each of the sites in turn. Google Reader is an online service offering similar features.

"If you're an avid FeedDemon user, you probably know that I've struggled to keep it updated," wrote Nick Bradbury in a blog post. FeedDemon stopped "paying the bills" a while ago, so Bradbury took a full-time job elsewhere and hasn't been able to give enough attention to FeedDemon.

Google's announcement on Wednesday that it will shut down Google Reader was the "nail in the coffin" for FeedDemon, Bradbury said. There is no decent alternative to Google Reader which FeedDemon synchronizes with, but even if there was, he was doubtful he had time to integrate it, he added. FeedDemon will continue to work as a standalone RSS reader after Google Reader closes on July 1.

The vendor of another RSS reader, called Reeder, however said in a Twitter message that "Don't worry. Reeder won't die with Google Reader." Reeder is a Google Reader client which requires users to have a Google Reader account to use the app. It did not specify how it planned to offer services after the exit of Google Reader.

"We've Got Your RSS Covered! Save Your Google Reader Feeds Now," said Flipboard, which offers a reader. To access their Google Reader feeds after July 1, users have to now sign in to Flipboard, and sign in to their Google Reader account using Flipboard, the Palo Alto, California, company said.

"If you already have a Flipboard account and you have signed into your Google Reader, you don't need to do anything," it said in a blog post.

Feedly, which also offers a reader, has attempted to clone the Google Reader API, and is also offering the backend to third-party developers using the Google Reader API. "We would love to keep the Google Reader ecosystem alive," it said in a blog post.

Feedly in Palo Alto, California, said it had been expecting the closure of Google Reader for some time. The company has been working on a project called Normandy which is a Feedly clone of the Google Reader API, running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, Feedly expects to transition to the Normandy back end.

"So if you are a Google Reader user and using Feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless," it said. By late Wednesday, the firm crowed: Bandwidth upgraded. New servers added. Welcome to all the new users.

Google's decision to discontinue its Reader was met with protests from some users, with at least two starting petitions on Change.org, asking Google not to axe the reader.

The company said on its Google Reader blog that like the reader's devoted following, it too was sad to see it go. Usage of Google Reader had declined, and Google is pouring all its energy into fewer products, it added. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives have the next four months to export their data, including their subscriptions.

But some users and analysts saw benefits in the exit of Google from the RSS reader market, including possible a revival of a competitive RSS market. "The truth is this: Google destroyed the RSS feed reader ecosystem with a subsidized product, stifling its competitors and killing innovation," wrote Aldo Cortesi, a coder and security consultant in Dunedin, New Zealand, in a blog post. It then neglected Google Reader for years, after it had effectively become the only player, he added.

NewsGator, for example, decided in 2009 to shut down NewsGator online and have its RSS readers synchronize with Google Reader, to focus on social sites for enterprise organizations.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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