According to FeedBurner’s latest blog post, Google is now the most used feed reader across all of the blogs that use the FeedBurner service. FeedBurner is a service that tracks a feed’s usage over a period of time. This is a very interesting report, and it certainly caused a lot of chatter all around town. While the report is very interesting, it also definitely raises several questions.
Disclaimer: The following conclusions drawn from the FeedBurner report refer to the ‘Audience Engagement (Views)’ chart, and NOT the ‘Audience Engagement (clicks)’ chart. This is primarily because most people read their feeds in their feed reader, and click through very rarely. Also, MyYahoo! only gives the option to click through, so it’s not as accurate of a pie chart as one might hope it to be.
For instance, does this mean that Google has finally managed to ‘reach the masses’ and show them that feeds are useful?
Can Google or Yahoo! bring RSS to the masses?
If anyone can do this out of the top feed readers that are listed in the report, it’s both Google and Yahoo! None of the other companies shown, that have at least 10% market share in either pie chart, ring any bells for most people. Now that FeedBurner has statistics showing that Google accounts for 59% of the feed readers being used to read FeedBurner-powered feeds, some might think that Google has finally managed to introduce feeds to the masses, with its incredibly large reach. It has managed to introduce services such as Gmail and Google Calendar to millions of people who just don’t give a damn about web 2.0, and want to go about their business. So we then have to ask, how difficult and annoying would the process be to add a new feed to Google Reader? Well, it turns out that it’s pretty damn annoying for a regular web user to do just that.
Where has Firefox Live Bookmarks gone to?
I’m surprised to see that Firefox Live Bookmarks aren’t shown in the chart; I’m guessing that they just chose not to include it because it’s technically not a feed reader in the traditional sense; I don’t see how its usage could be so tiny that it doesn’t even appear on the chart. I find that for many blogs that have a more general audience, that aren’t as techie, the method of choice to subscribe to feeds is to use Firefox Live Bookmarks because of its ease-of-use. I think that we should start focusing on tools like these, that are easy to use for the general population, by releasing reports on them to see what kinds of people and which audience uses this option, figuring out the best way to make this option the best and most seamless experience as possible, and to ensure that there is a slow-but-steady transition for people who currently use Firefox Live Bookmarks, or even those who don’t yet use it, but if they knew about it, they would. This should be where we lay our focus on – on the people where feeds really matter: everyone else. Right now, we’re still just toying with feeds; TechCrunch has what, 250 thousand or more feed subscribers? What if blogs soon began reporting subscriber counts of 10 million and more? That will be the day when we can say that we’ve made a real accomplishment, and it IS within reach.