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Monday, April 18, 2005

Really Simple Syndication –User Driven Growth

We recently covered some perspectives about user generated content fuelling website growth. Scobelizer points to a very interesting discussion about the adoption of RSS by the internet trios - Yahoo, Google & Microsoft. Dave Winer writes, among the three top Internet application companies Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, Yahoo and Microsoft are aggressively moving forward in deploying RSS, saying Yahoo more than all three, and Google is doing nothing, that's visible. Yahoo is dashing in front, with Microsoft close behind. Dave explains:
- Yahoo : shopping site has been completely RSS-ized. Looking ahead they will likely have a lead even in deploying commercial info through RSS as their approach looks stable. When the RSS discovery networks emerge, Yahoo's feeds will be near the top because they, right now, have no equal.
- Google : To this day Google doesn't do anything interesting with RSS feeds.
- Microsoft : They're two years into RSS, and haven't reinvented it; or even extended it without first testing the water outside.
Dave ends with a note,Tech companies must understand their place isn't to guide users, rather to learn what users want and then make systems that help us do that. Microsoft and Yahoo are finally, for the most part, letting the users drive, with outstanding results and higlights that it only works when all components are engaged. Software developers have a role to play, but users must dominate if it's going to have a chance of working. To the extent that RSS is working it's because the users are driving the growth.

We also recently covered Steve Rubel's views that Google is syndication shy wherein we noted that Yahoo and MSN are offering RSS feeds that not only drive users away from their properties (such as search results and news alerts), but also the kinds of feeds that also alert users when they have posted new content that is relevant to them (such as music alerts). Google views syndication drastically differently than its competitors. On the Web Google is all about driving people away from their sites. Once they've shown them an Adwords ad they had their opportunity to collect a dollar, so why not give the users what they need and send them on their way. However, when it comes to syndicated feeds they use it as a tool to drive users to their services and that’s why they are syndication shy.
Richard MacManus writes,Google hasn't done anything with their Blogger unit and they seem reluctant to add RSS functionality to their product line and notes that there's a hint of an RSS Aggregator in a new feature being tested for Gmail - Web Clips. There are indications that Microsoft will build in RSS functionality as part of the plumbing for their next OS (Longhorn). It was clear from the start.com prototypes too that Microsoft's strategy with RSS is to integrate integrate integrate. They want RSS to be baked into their products and particularly their OS, so you don't need to download web apps or subscribe to web services like Bloglines.Yahoo on the other hand is more about utilizing RSS as a media and content enabler - giving My Yahoo users more content to choose from, letting Yahoo News users dive into their niches, enabling mobile users to access content via RSS on their phone, etc.He is optimistic that Google wants to harness RSS. Most of their huge take of advertising revenue comes to them via webpages - their own pages, plus external webpages that use Google Adsense & Google wants to ensure that revenue doesn't get siphoned off if they make content available via RSS. Google is actively experimenting with ways to monetize RSS -Gmail "Web Clips" feature currently has adverts alternating with the content.Google is not a pioneer in a sense - but one they have their revenue moel calcualtions laid out well,they shall roll it out sufer effective. With Microsoft trying to integrate RSS into Longhorn - with slated Google ambition of the net operating system, am sure that they are getting their bets right.Being a user driven feature and getting at the core of the net phenomenon - the RSS(atom) movement is strong enough to get Google best attention.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"