As the Internet recovers from the summary execution of Google Reader, many people are searching or moving to alternative feed reader services, including me.
It turned out that I had bought a license for Fever, which is a self-hosted PHP application written by Uber Hipster, Sean Inman. All you need is a server to run it on. Enter DigitalOcean, stage left.
With DigitalOcean, you can rent a VPS for as little as $5 a month: the perfect candidate for running a feed reader service. So I logged in to my account, created an instance for $5 per month, and installed Fever.
Total Annual Cost: $60 (excluding one off $30 Fever license which I had bought years ago).
Google could potentially be making $60-$120 (I would pay up to $10 a month for such a service) a year from me by basically asking me for money for a service I already used. How much might that be in terms of revenue across the Google Reader user base?
There’s a Quora question about How many users did Google Reader have?, and the guestimate is ’10s of millions of active users per month.’
Some wildly speculative, back of the napkin, math could say that Google just shot in the head a market worth millions of dollars per year.
I know of many startups who would kill to be in that position, so why did Google not simply ask users of Google Reader to pay up?
Because it’s small business, for them.
For a company that makes $50 Billion in annual profit, a product that generates hundreds of millions per year won’t make the cut. The engineering talent associated with the project could be better deployed elsewhere to tweak the levers that have a significant impact on that profit total. So, they kill it. It makes good business sense. Google Reader was always destined to be lead to the Abattoir.
Google doesn’t do small business.