Oddly named BazQux could be excellent Google Reader replacement
Recently my favorite iPad based news reader, Feeddler, announced they'd chosen their new back-end service - BazQux. The race is on to replace Google Reader, and the Feeddler guy spent the last few months looking for an alternative back end service, and chose BazQux, leading me to go take a look. It's a competent news reader that imports your subscriptions direct from Google Reader and does a great job displaying them. However it has a fatal flaw for me.
To get started go to bazqux.com and sign up. It offers the ability to import your Google Reader subscriptions right away, and you can get started immediately.
The user interface will be familiar to feed reader users, with a subscription list to the left and most of the screen for showing news items. Click on a subscription, and the news items shows up. It offers several formats to display the news items using buttons along the top of the window.
All of this is as typical for this kind of application. The BazQux implementation works pretty darn well. The item display even works well.
While viewing an item it does something I've not yet seen in another news reader application - it shows the category tags associated with the news item. That is, RSS feed items can have category tags associated with them. I've never seen those tags displayed in a news reader application, but they do exist.
Unfortunately the ability to deal with tags doesn't support you adding your own tags to news items. You can only view the tags added by the author of the news item. Wait - two new buttons showed up in the user interface between the first time I used this application, and now. In the upper-right corner of the news item display is a set of buttons. One allows sharing out to other services, and one toggles whether the item has been read or is unread. The new buttons support adding custom tags to news items, and starring the news item.
The sharing feature allows you to send the news item to a long list of services including ones like Evernote and Instapaper.
All this means that BazQux hits all the features I need. News reading that works well. Tagging. An API to read the tags. The remaining issue is cost.
The application is available only through a paid subscription. You choose your subscription level, but the minimum is $9 per year. Other services are free, this one is paid, making one stop and question the viability. That is, what is the business model for each service and how do we kow whether the services will have the income necessary to survive. A free service, how do they earn their income and keep their doors open. We are in this mess because Google refused to implement any monetization system for Google Reader, and then starved it to death. With a paid service it's obvious what the business model is, subscription fees direct from the users.
But does the service match the cost? Is it worth $9/year? That remains to be seen, and especially it remains to be seen whether enough customers show up to use the service such that the author of the service can keep himself fed.
I feel comfortable recommending this application with the caveat that each person must decide for themselves about the cost.