Marco Arment makes some more excellent points about the Google Reader shutdown:
“And we lucked out with Reader — imagine how much worse it would be if website owners weren’t publishing open RSS feeds for anyone to fetch and process, but were instead posting each item to a proprietary Google API. We’d have almost no chance of building a successful alternative.
That’s Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. (Does the shutdown make more sense now?)”
While I agree with Marco that the internet is generally better off for having had Reader around, and I'm also optimistic that a fine solution will someday replace it, I think the way Google handled this was a bit dickish.
They swept in with a free product, practically took over the RSS industry with it (which likely put some other developers out of work), never bothered to monetize the product, then unceremoniously dropped it years later like a bad habit.
I would say it's analagous to Starbucks single-handedly snuffing out thousands of smaller coffee chains around the world, but at least they had the sense to charge for their product and are so far sticking around as a result.