(MoneyWatch) Google (GOOG), which is fairly infamous for summarily shutting down unprofitable services and products, has dropped the axe on yet another one: Google Reader is being shuttered. Unlike some of Google's other discontinued products, though, the RSS feed-reading tool seems to enjoy significant popularity. Many professionals use it to aggregate industry news and analysis and have relied on it daily for years.
The silver lining: First, Google Reader isn't going anywhere for a few months. The official shutdown date is July 1, so you have that long to come up with a Plan B.
And therein lies the rest of the good news: There are a number of good replacements for Google Reader already available, and with the obvious interest in Reader online, more will surely line up for your business. Here are some of the best RSS readers that you can test drive between now and June:
The Old Reader. The Old Reader is a solid RSS reader that looks and works a lot like Google Reader, so the learning curve is pretty shallow. It's also easy to import your subscriptions from Google Reader, so you can be up and running in just a few minutes.
Feedly. As soon as Google announced that they were discontinuing Reader, Feedly was welcoming Reader users into the fold. Importing Reader subscriptions is a snap, though the interface takes a little getting used to. You might appreciate the variety of layouts; you can browse your news feed in a traditional headline-only style or see stories arranged in a magazine-like, visual tile arrangement.
NewsBlur. I like NewsBlur a lot. It has a great visual presentation, and you don't have to learn a whole new way of doing business if you transition from Google Reader. Unfortunately, the free version is woefully underpowered, allowing just 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time. For all the bells and whistles, you need to spend $24 a year, so I'd recommend sticking with one of the other options unless you really fall in love with NewsBlur.