It seems like every time a free, popular product gets shut down or “acquihired”, an uproar comes up on the social networks. But should you really be surprised when a product goes away when everything was free? How exactly did you expect the developer to pay their bills and maintain the product you loved so very much?
You should seriously avoid using products that do not ask for money. It should come as no surprise that your favorite product is shutting down or the developer sold the project to a bigger company when revenue was not properly planned.
If you absolutely love a product that you currently use, make sure that the developer is generating some sort of revenue. It’s unrealistic to run a product without any sort of money coming in. It’s even better if the product you use has some sort of recurring revenue plan. Products that only require a one time payment have to gain an incredible customer base to cover on-going costs. With money coming in, aside from operation costs being taken care of, the developer will be constantly motivated to improve the product on a regular basis.
In the end, opt to use products that you know earn the developer money. Even if you’re not the one paying, others might. Money coming in to a developer assures that the product you love to use stays around.
P.S. This is not directed at the Google Reader situation. Just a general discussion.