Well, strictly speaking, I understand why they're retiring it. It's because it affords them very few opportunities to embed ads or mine your personal data and because maintaining it takes away programmers and servers that could otherwise be engaged trying to make people actually use Google+ or producing weird headgear that will make Neal Stephenson feel even more smug and self-satisfied. I get that.
What I don't understand is how so few people actually use this product. The various bits of analysis I've seen of the decision seem to indicate that RSS is being supplanted by more "social sharing" tools like Twitter and Facebook, but I fail to see how that's an improvement. It's not as if you think "Man, this scrolling down the page and seeing everything in one place is great, but what would really make it better would be having to wade through my friends' and acquaintances' unflattering photos and life minutiae in order to get to the exact same content."
And, not to question one of the underlying principles of social media or anything, but I feel like there's an assumption here that people are interesting, which is patently false. I'm boring. I'll admit it. I'm quite confident nobody cares that I just read Niklas Blanchard commenting on Ryan Avent responding to James Hamilton rebutting Paul Krugman writing about James Hamilton on debt dynamics, nor do I care about whatever breaking news, lolcats or Kardashian revelations my friends are looking at.
Not everything needs to become a giant mess of trendy, web-related buzzwords. Sometimes, an RSS reader is just an RSS reader.
EDIT: Oh, look, I see there's an internet petition to save Google Reader. Let's all sign that, it will totally make a difference.