I’m fully in the “Acceptance” phase of preparing for Google Reader to disappear in a couple months. I was angry, I thought about bargaining and all the rest of that. But now I’m fully and comfortably ensconced within Feedly (along with 3 million other refugees) for both my personal and professional reading. It’s meeting my needs and, while I’m legitimately intrigued by whatever the new Digg team has in store for RSS reading I’m good with it and am sure the Feedly team will make the transition seamless or nearly so.
The back of my mind has been tossing around various “what’s the big take-away going to be” thoughts about this but nothing really crystalized until I read about how WordPress had become a safe-haven for those who were getting reading for Posterous to undergo it’s own sun-setting, over and above WP’s usual “next step up” status.
That’s when I realized what I wanted to come out of the knee-capping of Google Reader is simple data portability.
I know (and everyone else should) that businesses will kill, discontinue and shutter products and services all the time based on a number of factors, from how much money that is making to how vocal the audience is to whether or not the product fits in the overall portfolio of products that company is offering. So yes, Google may have thrown the viability of using any of its current or future products in doubt, but not to any extent that’s greater than finding a particular brand of toothpaste you like only to find out it’s been discontinued after five years of use.
So what I want most from companies who are looking to gain customers is adherence to open standards. And I mean real “open” standards, not the way some companies use the term “open” to mean “anyone is free to become a formal partner as long as they adhere to our propriety ecosystem.” That’s far too common on the web these days.
I – and everyone else – should be able to take my information from Point A to Point B with minimal friction and effort. Platforms are free to compete on feature sets but don’t lock me in and when you run out of funding, when you realize a product doesn’t fit or when you just decide this isn’t the business you want to be in let me leave without a second thought.
More importantly, if you’re a competitor to Company X make it easy for me to bring my data to you. Feedly has done just that. And that’s what I hope companies learn here, that holding to open standards is the best for the customers and makes it easier to live with and adapt to whatever pivots are made down the road.