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Digg set to launch Google Reader replacement in June

Digg has announced that it is aiming for a June beta release for its Google Reader replacement, but said the final product might not be free.

In the wake of Google's decision to shut down Reader as of 1 July, Digg said that it would create its own RSS service. The company polled users on core discovery and reading features, and recently conducted a second survey, focusing on "more ancillary features like read later and sharing."

Based on more than 8,600 responses, 75 per cent of users share news via email, compared to 55 per cent who share stories via Facebook or Twitter.

"It almost goes without saying that our reader will include seamless sharing to all these services," Digg said in a recent blog post. Additionally, support is expected for all "read it later" services, including Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote, and Readability, even though one-third of respondents said they didn't use those types of services.

Nearly half of those polled said they never used Google Reader's once-available social features. Digg doesn't expect to have a robust social functionality in place at launch, but the service will ultimately include some social features, aimed at fostering connections between readers.

Part of what made Google Reader popular was the fact that it was free, but Digg might not embrace the same philosophy.

"Free products on the Internet don't have a great track record," the Digg team wrote. "They tend to disappear, leaving users in a lurch. We need to build a product that people can rely on and trust will always be there for them."

While the company still hasn't settled on final pricing options, the team said they were glad to see that more than 40 per cent of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay for the service.

Digg fans can sign up online to participate in surveys and receive updates about the new product.

In July 2012, Digg was acquired by Betaworks, which recently secured a majority stake in Instapaper, too.

Betaworks CEO John Borthwick was at Disrupt 2013 this week and said that Google Reader users were "blindsided" by the search giant's decision to discontinue the product. But the Digg-based RSS solution, he said, will fit nicely between Digg and Instapaper.

"It's an important piece of the puzzle," he said.

Instapaper, meanwhile, is a "wonderful" product and brand, Borthwick said. "It's part of what I see as an emerging eco-system [that] relates to the future of news and media."

Instapaper founder Marco Arment wanted Instapaper to continue for the long term, but "didn't want to spend a whole lot of time on it," Borthwick said. "He wanted to be there as spiritual godfather."

Arment was making about $1 million (£643,875) per year for Instapaper, so if "we make more than $1 million, [Arment] would be very happy about that," and vice versa, Borthwick said.