The Goodness of Google Reader

Google Reader
There’s all kinds of coverage today about Google’s plans for Google Reader but what is perhaps most interesting – at least to me – is how Google Reader has captured such a dominant position in the RSS market in such a short period of time.

You have to remember this was a market controlled by major players such as Bloglines, NewsGator and FeedDemon. But Google has not only established a foothold but clearly become one of the leading, if not the leading, RSS reader. Not that my network is representative of the general population but there aren’t many non-Google Readers these days.

The question is how did Google achieve this success when other efforts such as Okrut and Froogle failed so miserably while GMail has performed well but not been overwhelming? My sense is Google Reader’s done well because it’s user-friendly. The interface is clean, it’s easy to add new subscriptions using a seach term of URL, it has some nice features such as being able to share and highlight interesting posts, and it has a search tool. In other words, it’s just works – much like the Blackberry has succeeded because it does e-mail so well.

Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for any company to enjoy across the board success. Okrut never really caught the imagination of the Web community (outside of Brazil!). Maybe it has to do with the fact Okrut is a terrible name that sounds more like a disease than a cool social networking tool. As for Froogle, you could make an argument that the comparison-shopping market has never really taken off on the Web for whatever reason.

Trying to get a sense of Google’s strategic direction can be difficult given there are so many moving parts but it will be interesting to see what Google will do with a growing collection of blogging/RSS services that now includes Google Reader, FeedBurner, Urchin and Blogger. Can we expect to see some integration/inter-operability between them? And what about a blog publishing tool to compete against services such as Microsoft’s Live Writer?

More: Robert Scoble provides some personal insight into why he’s hooked on Google Reader. Scoble, who apparently has never meet an RSS feed he doesn’t like, now reads 832 feeds.

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  • Eric Eggertson

    Mark: When I use Gmail, I have to bend my head a bit to find the things I want to use. Add someone as a contact? It always seems to take me four clicks. Switch over to Google Docs? Um, I’ll get back to you. Check another e-mail without losing the message I’m writing? No problem. More clicks, not always of the intuitive kind.

    I have issues with Google Reader, but they’re more around performance and resource-sucking than intuitiveness. It works how I’d like it to work, and it’s easy to fiddle with.

  • heikko

    This goes actually also to your previous Orkut bashing (the “new UI – who cares?” entry). It really depends from where you look at social networking site, if Orkut does not contain your friends or most of the canada or most of states it does not mean it “has failed”. There are zillions of brasilienos in orkut, and also (now speaking from my point of view) most of the estonians online, are in Orkut. It depends where the circle started, which group gets used to some particular social networking site and why they afterwards never need to change or move or have twenty different accounts with different social networking sites.
    It applies to you aswerll, if you feel comfy in friendster, you really don’t need to go to orkut, as all your friends are already present. so who cares about friendster anyway :)