The end is nigh: Google Reader dies in T-minus 12 days. Users have less than two weeks to find an alternative RSS feed or face a world without articles conveniently curated by topic and source.
Digg, the company that Google accidentally deindexed after it announced the development of a Reader replacement, will be rolling out Digg Reader, version 1 next week. Clearly this RSS feed is legit, as their blog post included several photos of geeks sitting at computers and pointing at white boards.
Digg plans to open the RSS feed to everyone by June 26, so those who have clung so dearly to Google Reader can find something else before it goes under. They explained that what users will see in the coming weeks is by no means a finished product, but rather phase one, a starting point to collect feedback and fix problems before they increase the speed, add tools and develop an app.
The target market of Digg’s RSS feed is power users, aka those whose worlds were rocked at the Google Reader death announcement. More than 18,000 people signed-up to test Digg Reader and give their feedback – that’s a lot of power users.
There are equal pros and cons for releasing an RSS feed in this dramatic time of need. The main con is that their competition has been developing their product for years. Feedly has been around since 2008, and more than 500,000 people signed-up the weekend after the announcement of Google Reader’s demise. Feedly has had a steady stream of converts over the past 90 days, it has an established product with an established fan base.
The positive side for Digg is that they can listen to their users and make rapid changes over the next few months. If people sink their teeth into the RSS feed and find parts that aren’t as savory, Digg’s engineers can tweak the product to meet their needs. Digg openly admits that what they’re rolling out next week isn’t a final product, and it will be a cool to watch the feed evolve over the coming months.
These pros and cons leave Digg’s target audience stuck in the middle. Should the power users risk testing the waters with this new product, or should they go for the established competitor? They may be in for a rough few months as the bumps are smoothed out, but it could pay off in the long run. Google Reader users didn’t respond kindly to having to switch platforms once, it’s doubtful that anyone would leave their main RSS feed again even if Digg took a large chunk of market share.
We also can’t forget that this isn’t a two-horse race. Pulse, FeedReader, The Old Reader, and NewsBlur are only a handful of Google Reader alternatives. Even Facebook has been rumored to be developing an RSS feed. All of these companies have been trying to bring ex-Google Reader users to their platforms. If Digg wants to revolutionize the RSS feed market they will have to grow rapidly, quickly respond to feedback, and present a better product than all of their competitors. That’s hard to do in 90 days, but let’s see what they’ve got.