Despite what you might have heard or thought, it’s not a winner-take-all market. No new “winner” will emerge after Google Reader has left the stage. And more so, Google Reader was never the old “winner”. Even with all its many views (expanded, list, search results, all items, only new items, etc.) its was never the “King of the Hill” absolute winner of RSS Readers. There was room for Flipboard, Reeder, Fever and many others. Feed reading is inherently polymorphic, after many years this still holds true. The interface of a feed reader has »to be athletically flexible to match a wide variety of reading styles« as Chris Wetherell writes. No one product will dominate, but there will be many “winners” and many, many RSS Reading products.
However platforms or formats tend to monopolise. And Google Reader had a monopoly with its RSS Syncing platform and API format. We have been there and we are not going back. Although we will converge to a single API format (perhaps two), we will not be going back to one company controlling it, and with it holding that much power over the entire RSS ecosystem. We will see a commonly shared API format – open to many and enhanced by many. The network effects and externalities that were present, and allowed Google Reader to build a monopoly around its API format, are no longer present.
If you are a RSS Syncing platform »there is no reason to fear competition if you support [one format] … People will choose your service because of you, your extras, your modern web page, your great community, your awesome support, your reliable and fast servers« as Oliver Fürniß writes. When we talk about platforms and not products, then it’s a different game, with different rules. Google didn’t understand this, but they don’t get platforms (best illustrated with the lack of an official and documented API for Google Reader). So please don’t repeat their mistakes.
UPDATE: Please go read A Letter to all Present and Future RSS Syncing Platforms – The RSS Consensus.