Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay For

Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay For

Google Reader and Google Keep are two different services, but when placed side by side they offer a cautionary tale for anyone using the web. There has been a good deal of chat among the Gear Diary team on our backchannel, and  Judie, Mike, Carly and I have been further discussing the demise of Reader and the introduction of Google Keep among the four of us quite a bit. Here’s some of what we have to say…

Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay For

As Joel posted Wednesday, Google has just rolled out Keep, their Evernote and OneNote competitor. Evernote, as you likely know, offers users a powerful free option, but those who want to take maximum advantage of all the service offers generally opt to pay for a Premium Subscription. At $45 per year, it isn’t a lot of money, but it is money. Google’s offering, on the other hand, is absolutely free — at least from the perspective of cash money. And while Evernote could jack up their price at any time, and Google Keep could eventually eclipse Evernote’s functionality (because after all, Google has the resources of … Google), there is no way I would ever use Keep.

Why? Simple — Google Reader.

As Google just demonstrated, using their products for free — save the cost of whatever info they might manage to glean from your personal information and browsing history — means that the company can do what they want whenever they want with the service. That’s why they could simply decide to shut down Google Reader (a service all of us here on GD rely upon) and then remove the link to it from their menu bar just a few days later. From a financial perspective, making the change costs them nothing; they don’t need to care that we all all a bit angry or frustrated. They can do what they want, when they want, and that’s the end of the story.

Evernote, on the other hand, depends upon people liking the service so much that they are compelled to move from Evernote Free to Evernote Premium. Evernote needs subscribers because that is their revenue source. That, in turn, means they have an incentive — like the health and future of the entire company — to keep the service going and to constantly work to make it better, more attractive and, in turn, more profitable.

I asked my fellow Gear Diary Editors if they are inclined to try and potentially use Google Keep. Here’s what they had to say…

Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay ForCarly: Google Reader’s shutdown makes me extremely concerned about my entrenchment in Google going forward. What scares me isn’t that they shut down a service I liked, what scares me is that their reasoning is vague (“didn’t fit core business”). Exactly what is Google’s core business these days? Ads mostly, with a healthy dose of data monitoring and mining as well. What was Google Reader? An insight into how millions of people interacted with websites. Granted, I am looking at this from an outsider’s view, but it seems to me there is a ton of juicy, valuable data to be found in how users track their favorite websites.

And even if I accept that Google Reader really did fall out of Google’s main business, the fact that their business is so vague makes me worried about a service like Keep. Either Google is going to inundate users with ads, or they are going to possibly use the content of notes as a way to mine even more data about its users. If Google Reader wasn’t a core business, and Reader was all about a firehose of data being managed, how then is Keep to become a core business? It isn’t, unless Google plans to track every word typed into the service.

I am also a bit concerned about Gmail now, too … will parts of Gmail be stripped away and given to the albatross that is Google+? And will Google Calendar be able to survive as a standalone? I keep looking at the Google services I use, and now I can’t help but wonder “Is this next on the chopping block?”

So no, I won’t be touching Google Keep. And I plan to back my data up via Google Takeout at least once a month. And for the first time in a very long time, I am keeping one eye on the alternatives to Google services … just in case.

Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay ForMike:  For me the bottom line is that the Google Reader Cancellation is a reminder that Google IS Google+.

Recent events out of Google have caused me to go back to think about Google and its core business: Search. This is certainly not the first time I have done this — in fact, a while back I made the controversial claim that Google was now more of an advertising agency than a Search technology company. My basic position was that public companies are judged by how they bring in revenue, and for Google nearly all revenue is from advertising. To me, that means anything that bolsters advertising revenue is good, anything that diminishes it is bad (simplistic, I know).

When ‘search was king’ at Google, the mantra was get customers on their way as quickly as possible – they openly ridiculed the densely populated Yahoo! screen, saying that by providing the best search they benefit customers and companies alike, which in the end benefits Google through advertising. Google Alerts allowed you to set up email reminders for when new items appeared in certain search queries, and became widely used among a certain niche. Again, Alerts sent you elsewhere, but there was a strong value proposition for searchers and companies alike. Same for Reader … you scan RSS and head to non-Google sites, which pretty much all contain ads back to Google, again benefitting customers, site-owners and Google. Even later additions like Google News and iGoogle offered curated (and likely paid) news slots that allowed you to go elsewhere very quickly.

But three things changed all of this: mobile, social and GMail. GMail is nothing new, but as it has developed and grown into a huge service with millions of people leaving thousands of emails around (I have 55,000 in one of my accounts, and I thought I kept my email fairly clean!), Google suddenly has a massive dataset to use with all of those servers and software bots to mine for trends, topics and other saleable items. GMail might be guilty of everything in the ‘Scroogled’ or ‘GMail Man’ ad campaigns by Microsoft, but in general users don’t care – they acknowledge the trade-off and move on. But GMail taught Google a valuable lesson – the more data users provide, the more money Google makes. It is that simple – and therefore Google transitioned from ‘quick on and off’ to ‘you can leave, but tell me EVERYTHING first’.

It is really hard to think back 7 or 8 years in terms of smartphones. I was still using a dedicated PDA and a basic cell phone then. Palm, Windows Mobile and particularly BlackBerry ruled the world. But there was a real push to do more on these devices than just simple email and messaging. By the time the iPhone arrived, other companies were working on or releasing full-featured devices … but it was the iPhone that captured public imagination and changed the world. It also changed how the world viewed the web — on the small screens there simply wasn’t enough room for ads, search data was harder to track, and all of that was lost in apps. So with Android, Google ensured they would have a continuous revenue stream and information stream, and the app model of free with ads ensured Google could have eyes on whatever and wherever you were.

As for social … sites such as Facebook in particular are trying to build a sort of portal that you really never leave. Chat, messaging, open discussions, news, pictures and video and more — all on one site surrounded by your friends. This presents a major problem for Google, as they get no data when someone stays on Facebook, as they are essentially invisible to Google. So after failing with Buzz and Wave, Google came up with Google+. Aimed at being a hybrid social network that seeks to keep you on Google territory as long as possible, it quickly became more … and less. More because suddenly everything you did on a Google property was a Google+ action – like that YouTube video? That was a +1 on Google+, and so on. It felt like a numbers game, where Google leveraged their monopolies to appear larger in the social space than they actually were. The appeal for Google is clear – the more time you spend on G+, the more data they get from you.

As for how Google+ is ‘less’? Well, in spite of the falsely inflated numbers, and in spite of forced integration and sign-ups as part of getting an Android device, Google+ remains fairly marginal in terms of appeal and reach. Not even close to Facebook, they don’t supplant Twitter for news, Instagram for pictures, Pinterest for random food and clothing pics (can you tell I’m not a huge fan?), and so on.

Which brings us back to Google Reader and Keep. As soon as the cancellation of Reader was announced, there was quite a bit of backlash. Some of it was because Reader did what it did so well, it killed off the market. This was a Microsoft tactic, which they did effectively with ‘Internet Mail & News’ back in the very early web days.

But some of the backlash was also because it didn’t make any sense – Reader didn’t cost much to sustain, as they weren’t doing much to improve it anymore, so it is clear that it wasn’t about the money. Even moreso, very quickly you had some seriously high volume sites showing data about the huge differential on what is driving traffic – it IS from Reader, and it is NOT from Google+. That pretty well shuts down the theories about how ‘marginal’ Reader was and that was why it was shuttered.

What all of this comes back to is a strategic change – Google is NOT about Search, it is Google+. Search is necessary, but since search will generally drive people off the site Google has changed up their approach so that advertisements, paid sites and Google properties get top billing – and apologists who like to pretend that isn’t true need only check out this article about the NCAA tournament to see the difference between Google (all about Google) and Bing (broad set of choices) to realize how far Google has headed in the wrong direction.

Further evidence of the dismantling of search? Apparently now Google Alerts are pretty much broken across the board, without any notice. Which is what has now happened with Reader – Joel alerted us when Reader disappeared from Google Play, and Judie noted when it no longer showed up in her menu bar, and I also found that in the full list of products it is gone. Sure you can still get to Reader, but Google clearly doesn’t want you to easily find it!

So what does this have to do with Keep? One angle is that we can’t trust Google if they will so quickly screw millions of customers over for no good reason. While true, I think that the way they handle our personal data and some of the advertising we get as a result already let us know that (and yet millions of us stick with GMail in spite of it).

For me, the reason I will not touch Keep is that it telegraphs Google’s motives like a toddler waddling towards the shiny breakable thing on your end table. Google knows that people store everything in Evernote: personal lists, business tasks and todos, friends info, blog drafts, kids’ birthday lists, groceries, and on and on. They also can imagine the money they can make selling all of that data, associating personal info with emails and other documents that enrich the context of each bit of data.

To get market share they do what they do best – wrap it up with their other products and make it free. Next step will be to give it more features while simultaneously breaking interoperability between their stuff and other utilities (like they have been doing to cripple Windows Phone). These tactics might seem both familiar and evil, and that is because we have seen them before – from Microsoft 15 or so years ago. So while I am sad to see Reader go, it is one less tendril that has me tied to Google. I have switched to Bing for search, Safari (FireFox on PC) for web browsing, no longer use Docs, and so on. The more they tighten their grip on my data, the more services slip through their fingers.

Google Reader and Google Keep, You Get What You Pay ForJudie: This is going to be a bit of a rambling response, so please just bear with me and I’ll eventually get to the point …

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Julie and I used to regularly say “Google is my friend” when someone would ask how we found an obscure fact so quickly; we would even say it to each other at times, and the funny thing is that we were only half-joking! Google search was better than any of the other search engine options available at the time, because its algorithm was extremely good at finding specific data across the web.

Before you could even specify Google as your default search engine, I was one of the millions who would automatically key into my browser whenever I needed info on anything; calling up Google search became second nature. I doubt any of us gave a thought as to what Google might be doing with the information they gathered from us every time we entered a seemingly innocuous search phrases such as “best full body workout”, “Republican rally Austin, Texas”, “Church of Scientology”, “how to remove SD card from DVD slot on iMac”, or “composting toilet reviews”.

Why should we care about the information Google was collecting from us? We weren’t searching for anything illegal or immoral, right? What difference could it possibly make? But what we were doing was freely giving Google the type of information that we might not have ever shared with even those we trusted the most; we were essentially allowing Google into our heads as it became second nature to search Google for information on everything and anything the minute we had a question about it. “How to remove blood stains”, “tide tables”, “largest Yeti cooler size” …

Do enough searches for seemingly unrelated items, and patterns begin to emerge — patterns that could and would be used to make money for Google.

Google also offered other services that were seemingly unrelated to search, but they all had one thing in common — advertisements. Maybe there were times when it seemed a bit disconcerting that Google would know to show us ads that could only have been placed based on searches for specific items that we had performed in the past, but we got over it because some of those ads were for things we might actually want to buy. Eventually we just came to expect it, I think. And how could any reasonable person possibly begrudge Google a few targeted and relevant ads when they started giving us free email that came with 7GB storage (an unheard of amount at the time) along with the best spam filter any of us had ever seen?

I think many of us failed to consider the ramifications of  giving a company access not only to the terms that we searched for, but to every email we would ever send or receive. Google even made a point of telling us that there was no need to delete email; they were giving us plenty of storage space so we could keep everything … but if we really needed more, it could be had inexpensively. Google even introduced their own web browser, Chrome, which offered services such as this one …

Google Chrome Spell-Check

But Google had even more in store; in order to send readers to the most relevant sites so that people would be in a good mood when they clicked the displayed Google ads, Google introduced an algorithm called PageRank to numerically evaluate every site’s value. Suddenly sites weren’t being judged on their own merits (such as the content they produced or the amount of people who visited daily), they were being judged on the sites that they linked out to and — even more importantly — the backlinks from other sites based on those linking sites’ values.

In the early to mid 2000s, it was common for advertisers to look at a site’s PageRank when determining whether or not to advertise, and if so for how much; it was also common for PR companies to check PageRank when deciding who to send review samples to. Whatever its original purpose may have been, PageRank became a snap judgement value indicator for websites; anyone who had a site could breathe a sigh of relief if theirs scored anything higher than a 4 (out of a possible 10). At some point in 2009 or so, Google became extremely negligent sporadic about updating PageRank numbers — even going so far as to tell webmasters not to get so hung up on their PageRank, because there were other factors which were more important — but even today it seems that many never got that memo.

In February 2011, Google introduced Panda, their new algorithm that was supposed to lower the search engine rankings for ‘low quality’ or thin sites; what it did instead was force many webmasters to rethink everything they thought they knew about blogging as they watched their sites appear lower and lower in Google search ranking results, sometimes further down than the scraper sites reposting their content.

Google has always taken steps to be much more than just the best search engine and the best free email service. Over the years, Google has introduced a plethora of web-based applications  — many were direct competitors to other popular services at the time. Some of the Google products I’ve used include Google Video, Google Docs, Google Buzz, Google Labs, Google Wave, and Google Apps. A few of these were original Google concepts that even now might be considered ahead of their time, and some were eventually rolled into other services offered by Google, but the one thing that all of these free services had in common is that every one of them was eventually discontinued by Google. In fact, if you want to see a disheartening list of some  of the more popular services Google has introduced only to later axe, look no further than this post on Salon.

Salon's interactive Google Graveyard

Salon’s interactive Google Graveyard

I currently use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Accounts for Gear Diary (we were grandfathered in for the free service), Google Reader (and several iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone and Android apps that import Google Reader information), Chrome, Google Play, Google News, Picasa, Google Maps, and YouTube. I pay $50 per year for 200GB storage (grandfathered again) on one of my Google accounts, and of course I have an Android phone. I have been an early adopter (essentially a beta-tester) of many Google products for what seems like forever, and I am completely invested in Google services.

But here’s the thing: I’m feeling the loss of Google Reader more than I expected to, and I’m disappointed and more let down than I probably have the right to be. Google Reader was a free service, and of course Google had the right to kill it at their discretion … but this time, it’s causing me to reevaluate the ways that I use Google and their free services. I honestly don’t have any desire to invest myself in another Google product, especially when there are other, better products already available. I also don’t see the need to give Google access to even more of my private information. As it stands, Google knows more about me than my mother, my daughter or my husband, and they have even inserted themselves into the way I have to manage Gear Diary; I’m growing less and less comfortable with that.


So there you have it — the four Gear Diary Editors — none of whom have strong feelings about this, and all of whom will not be going anywhere near Google’s latest offering.

What do you think? Is Google Keep of interest to you? Can you see yourself using it? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Rants and Raves

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16 replies

  1. I’m pretty much feeling the same way – after the sudden death bell sounding for Google Reader, I realized that I have a lot of things dependent on Google. Keep wasn’t really worth even pursuing in the first place because of its limited reach – Android >= ICS gets the best features and no other clients available. Even the web client is supposedly pretty limited. I use MS products – that means I’ll _never_ see a client for my devices if they take off. I’m also pretty content with OneNote and Evernote, to the extent that I use the latter.

    I’ve been a bit put off by Google lately anyway – little to no support for MS products and gaming their systems to make the experience worse by using them when they don’t do the same to Apple just adds to that. It would be different if they just wanted their users, regardless of platform, to have a good experience, but that’s not the case. Even their EAS shutdown is mostly targeted at MS users because they aren’t doing the same for any other platform. Shutting down Reader was kind of the last thing to really push me towards moving away from Google. So far Feedly is getting my business there.

    Now if I could just come up with a good replacement for Feedburner. I’m pretty sure that’s next on the chopping block and we use that for several things. :(

    • Regarding EAS, that really isn’t free, right? Google had to pay Microsoft a licensing fee of some sort. I think that EAS was a different case from Reader, and Google does have a standard sync solution for free for anybody who will implement them (IMAP/POP for mail, CalDav and CardDAV for calendar and contact sync.) They have extended EAS for Windows Phone clients until this summer, and I understand that Microsoft is adding those services to WP by then. (Also, of course, EAS remains in place for paying, Google Apps customers.)

      • Could have sworn I’d read somewhere that EAS would still function for Apps and iOS users, but probably just misread it. I understand that EAS costs money per person, but it’s a whole lot better than Google’s version of IMAP and CalDav/CardDav have their own set of issues – didn’t Google just deprecate one of those, but gave MS a special exemption for the time being? EAS is pretty much an enterprise standard because it’s good at what it does and uses quite a bit less energy to support push than IMAP would doing its sync.

        I do agree that it’s a cost, but considering the otherwise small number of WP users, to cut it off pretty much just for them says a lot about their war with MS. They could have switched it to a pay service – cover that license plus a bit and you can keep EAS for your account. That would have been worth the small amount to keep it going.

        In any case, Google’s latest anti MS stance, especially around the WP platform, and the shutdown of Reader is enough to keep me from just blindly jumping on any more of their services and also has pushed me towards getting off several of them. Still wondering what will replace Feedburner as a service because Google hasn’t put any resources towards that in a while and we use that for several things now.

        • People who had already set up EAS for GMail in any platform – iOS, WP or BB, though even Android Kindle users could have been set up that way – will continue to be able to use it. Google extended the deadline for WP users until sometime this summer. After that, you can continue to use EAS with GMail if you had already set it up, but no new clients can be set up.

          I suppose that you can call it anti-Microsoft, but I don’t see Microsoft bending over backwards to provide versions of Office for Android, and, as far as I know, Apple provides no iCloud calendar or contact sync with Microsoft Windows Phone, either. Is it anti-Microsoft only because Google once used EAS, but then stopped?

          • Gmail EAS ceases to be available when you change platforms. I just moved my work gmail account from a Galaxy Nexus to an iPhone 5. EAS won’t work. I’d consider paying for the service except I don’t want all the other baggage they require. I also don’t want to answer all of the sign up questions they demand. I just was EAS back! I’d love to find a replacement now. Any suggestions? What this means to me is when users replace their mobile devices, they are going to lose EAS on them. I don’t know what percentage of gmail users are mobile, but I see this becoming a noisier issue as time advances.

          • The anti-MS thing comes from the other policies Google has about MS right now. Coding to make IE look worse than it actually is (like WAP worse), not allowing MS to code a better Youtube app because they won’t allow access to the APIs when they don’t do this for iOS, and things like that. Yes, they’re competitors and Google can choose to run their business however they want. Yes, MS has done some anti-competitive things as well. However, in the latest round of nonsense, only the users really lose. I kind of like a lot of what Google has offered, but they’ve made it an increasingly bad or even non-existent experience to use with WP or Win8.

  2. I am not so sure about it yet. It does have it’s uses but it’s pretty lousy for anything beyond BASIC note taking. The reader fiasco has gotten me to think about it, but to be honest I still LOVE Gmail. No other email service has those features and while I doubt it will go the way of Reader, I would be at a loss right now.

    What I hope and pray is that someone at Google open up the code that runs Reader. That would satisfy the mantra they used to use a lot: Don’t be Evil. If they opened up the code, I would GLADLY setup a server of my own to use it.

    Google is still something I will continue to use along with Gmail, Android, Google + and to a lesser extent their non-app offerings on the Play store. Google has done tones for society beyond their business ventures with the Summer of Code and other open source projects. They are much less evil then Apple who used BSD and GPL’d software and did not contribute much back to it. Google is a regular code contributor to many projects and that’s why I will continue to use them. My non use of Keep will be more because I don’t really have a use for it now that I have been a free Evernote user….and I am even looking into paying for it and using it more.

    In the end this can really this CAN be said about any service where YOU are the product. You are the product any time a service is free. Sometimes I don’t mind it. Other times I do. If it’s something I can’t do without (eReaders and my eBooks) I gladly pay for it.

  3. As an online publisher myself, I’m highly reliant on Google for everything from traffic from search, to ad revenues from AdExchange, to ad operations from DFPSB, to mail from Gmail, to RSS syndication from Feedburner. Every one of these services is free and each one keeps me up at night for one reason or another. Part of the reason I became an independent businessperson was to be in more control of my own destiny, and I would gladly pay a small monthly or annual fee for all of these critical components of my business if Google offered the option. At least that would provide them with a direct revenue stream, and less likelihood to say that they can’t monetize the service through advertising.

    As for Google Reader, I’m worried that Google doesn’t understand the INDIRECT revenue streams that product provides for them. Millions of publishers have hundreds of millions of RSS subscribers following their sites through Reader, not to mention the numerous other publishers who use the tool to research and source content. Cut off Reader, and you have the potential to destroy that delicate ecosystem, and along with it traffic and ad revenues for – guess who – Google AdSense and DoubleClick AdExchange (and countless publishers and other ad networks).

    Sure, there are other cool/better feed readers out there like Feedly, but the risk is that there will be massive “breakage” as people migrate away from Google Reader – or worse yet, stop following RSS feeds altogether.

    I’m also concerned that Google will eventually kill Feedburner, as there’s no direct monetization stream there either. Despite that, the same argument stands. Cut off traffic to sites by killing the RSS reader ecosystem, and Google will stand to lose untold revenues from decreased traffic on the websites it profits from ads running on.

    However, I really don’t want to add yet another free Google tool (i.e. Keep, or Google+ for that matter) to my stable, as I’m already way too dependent on the whims of a single company for my livelihood. That all said, I still derive a tremendous amount of income, productivity and joy from tools created by Google, and largely provided for free. I just wish they would offer a “freemium” model for more of their products so we can all feel a little more confident that the rug won’t be randomly pulled out from under us.

  4. One comment is that unlike Keep and Reader services like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, etc. are sold via Google Apps for business along with an SLA so those apps don’t have the same fear of dismantling.

  5. First, Google Reader is still in the black bar on It only seems to be removed trom the bar when you are in Google+. (It’s definitely still there in search, Gmail, Calendar and Drive.)

    Gmail, Calendar and Contacts are key resources for Android clients – the equivalent of Apple’s iCloud accounts for iPhones. Those services are going nowhere anytime soon.

    I think that Keep (which I will not use, as I have Evernote already) is just Google’s free note taking service for Android users, just as Apple has free note taking for iPhones/iOS. I have no idea if Google will keep the service or drop it, but I also think it’s reaching to say that Google will drop everything that they provide just because they are dropping Reader. And, while I’ll agree that Evernote is a great service, I do think it’s not widely used by the general public, and note taking has been a bit of a black hole in Android.

    (Just as a digression, I also store nothing of importance in Evernote, as I am not sure that I trust their encryption. Notes by default are stored in the clear on their servers, and, though they support encrypting individual notes, it is done with 64 bit RC2 encryption, which is not that strong.)

    (And, just as a second digression, twice now I’ve had problems with Evernote on Android. Apparently there was some sort of problem with the local data on the phone, but I didn’t learn that until I had lost several notes that I had sent to Evernote using sharing from other apps. My fault for not checking to make sure that they were being uploaded – I had turned off the notification.)

    I really think that Reader was a product used by us tech geeks. My parents, my siblings (who are rather techie) would *never* use anything like Google Reader. So, the question remains: people say that Reader cost little for Google to run (with no evidence to back that up, but I’ll tend to agree) – but it does take some resources (i.e., people), and I’m willing to be that Google felt that the personnel required to run Reader right just wan’t worth what they could potentially use for maximizing ad revenues.

    I’m willing to be that this Reader thing will be forgotten pretty fast, because people seem to have forgotten that we are supposed to mad at Apple for ending keychain, mail rules, and system preference syncing via MobileMe, plus ending MobileMe galleries for the much less useful PhotoStreams, plus ending web site publishing through MobileMe and iWeb. I was one of the people who took advantage of these services (except the web sites), AND I EVEN PAID FOR IT – and, still, it went away. All of these things were useful to me. And, for all of that, everybody seems to have forgotten about it completely and moved on; it hasn’t stopped anybody from buying or using Apple products, and the only griping I hear about iCloud is about how mediocre it is, not that it’s missing features. I think that the same thing will happen with Reader – there will be a lot of angst and anger through the end of the summer, then it will be over and done, because Google will still have great and useful stuff.

    Even if you take a position that Google cannot be trusted to continue to provide free services, at least given them credit for their take-out service. Nobody else they compete with at this level (Apple and Microsoft are chiefly who I am thinking of) has anything like this (or have I missed something?)

    By the way, if you are worried about losing all of this stuff, and you use Macs, can I recommend the app CloudPull, rather than manually going into TakeOut? There is a free version for a single account, or a $10 version for multiple accounts (including Apps accounts.) It’s a great app, and it gives you local storage for everything PIM and Docs…

  6. Holy crap, the NYTimes Paul Krugman evaluated the Google Reader shutdown from an economic point of view! Without facts it is hypothetical, but he demonstrates that it’s possible for a monopolist in some market from being able to find a price for something – even a small price – and still lose money.


    Also, see this comment (Andy’s if this permalink doesn’t work):

    “Google Reader can’t charge its users different prices directly, but it can do so indirectly by using ads. More intense users will naturally see more ads, and thus generate more revenue for Google. I think the problem is not one of price discrimination.

    Rather, there are so many feed readers out there that Google can’t put in enough ads to cover its cost without pushing its users to the competitors.”

    Again, without knowing Google’s costs and limits of human resources to support Reader, this remains hypothetical, but it is a demonstration that it’s possible that Google was not generating enough revenue from Reader to make continuing the service worth the cost and effort.