Goodbye Google reader – now what?

Google Reader shuts down on 1 July – why is it going and what can we use instead?

While there are alternatives to Google Reader such as Feedly and NewsBlur, loyal users are yet to find a universally satisfying substitute. It could be a market opportunity for developers to swoop in and create something comparable.

Facebook Reader and Digg Reader beta have also both launched recently with the timing suggesting they’re making a pass at the stranded Google Reader community.

Google previously cited a decline in use of the service as the reason for ceasing its existence. Despite this, it appears those who did use Google Reader were loyal users. It begs the question, are you at times better off keeping a small amount of loyal followers happy or abandoning them to concentrate on the masses?

With the apparent gap a lack of Google Reader presents, it’s going to be difficult to replicate a service which had the backing of an internet giant, masses of data and big marketing potential. But it could make for digital disruption from new contenders.

Tangible technology the next stage of digital enablement?

A mobile game which responds to the chewing pattern of the player, Stride Gum, has just launched, which could signal an advance in facial recognition technology and augmented reality.

User engagement with facial recognition and other tangible technologies may be increasing as people become more comfortable letting digital permeate into their lives.

However, as technology becomes more stealthy, there is counter technology being created to block advancements such as facial recognition. Google Glass came under intense scrutiny among privacy advocates, even though those behind the technology said they didn’t intend to release the product with facial recognition technology unless there were strict privacy protections in place.

The combination of augmented reality, facial recognition and online communication capabilities is prompting sectors such as health and retail to reach out to customers, patients and other stakeholders. We have seen examples in the retail industry of using augmented reality in the form of fitting room technology and signs which interact with smartphones (e.g. through QR codes), but what is the industry making of the potential of haptic technology, or touch and feel, in the communication process?

Durex recently created an application which brings a new element to the long distance relationship, allowing someone to feel their partner’s touch over the internet. The pieces of ‘Fundawear’ are equipped with technology which when worn activates a vibration on the desired part of the body through the internet.

If the masses are becoming more comfortable with tangible technology permeating their lives, it will be up to industries such as retail and health to reach consumers and stakeholders using these platforms.



John Riccio

John is PwC’s Global Design & Deploy, Experience Consulting partner.

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