The RSS reader is dead

Well, not exactly dead. But as this snippet of my current feed statistics shows, the overwhelming majority of people who come to this site are choosing to read RSS feeds in their web browser:

Google just began reporting its readership numbers last week (previously, all a publisher like me knew was that Google was downloading my feed, with no indication of how many people were actually subscribed via Google). It’s remarkable to me that nearly a quarter of the people reading this site are using Google’s tool, and nearly three out of four are using a browser-based service. That Other Readers category includes some other web-based products as well, like My Yahoo and Netvibes and Opera RSS Reader, meaning the category is even larger than it looks.

In all, there are more than 70 named products and services trying to compete for that tiny slice of the pie. Consolidation, anyone?

(Thanks to Feedburner for the excellent analytics.)

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10 thoughts on “The RSS reader is dead

  1. Ed:

    I am one of the people who read your blog via a web browser. I didn’t use a RSS newsreader even before IE 7 and certainly not afterwards. I never saw the point of installing a separate newsreader on top of the browser software I already had. While a newsreader may have extra features, I simply don’t need them for what I do. And if I don’t need them, they don’t go on my machines. I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to adding software of any kind.

  2. For me, the problem with reader app is that it is mostly tied to my pc at home and if I forget to backup the bloglist, i will stand a chance to lose them all in pc crash/reformat 🙂 as happened the last time. Hence the bloglines from now on. I did luckily manage to recover almost all of my bloglist from my memory.

  3. Personally I use FeedDemon and have for a long time. With the ability to sync with NewsGator it’s a winning combo. I’ll never lose all my feeds due to a crash yet I have a very powerful reader that gives me flexability over how I read and track items.

    Of course the key here is that I’m a long time user. I’ve been subscribing to feeds since before they hit mainstream and even before that I was always looking at automated ways to keep track of my favorite websites.

    I can imagine for the more casual feed reader whatever is built into the browser is going to be more than enough, then once they get comfortable with it they might venture out looking for something more and that is the market future readers have to capture.

    One reason I’ll never use an online-only feed reader is that even when my internet connection isn’t available I have access to the posts I’ve already downloaded as well as those I’ve marked as keepers. I read a slew of development blogs and having the little code tidbits already marked in FeedDemon and available off-line is a huge benifit to me.

  4. For the typical reader your blog is probably viewed as little different then just another website to view on the browser. Granted your bound to attract a more technically inclined audience then the typical site but I can’t say I’m particularly surprised that most still view your content directly through a browser.

    Until a year ago I was viewing via Opera’s RSS Reader, pretty basic but functional enough. Unless you really have a lot of feeds or need specific organizational tools there isn’t a strong need for a app like FeedDemon (My current RSS Reader of choice)

  5. I use FeedDemon as well. I still prefer client side applications over web based and use it for many of the same reasons as Shawn mentioned.

  6. I used NewsGator years ago, and was tied to a single machine. I switched to the Onfolio web-based reader, which was easier to use, but still tied to one machine. Recently I switched to Google’s reader, which is the smoothest reader I’ve tried (I have not tried many), and which also doesn’t tie me to one computer. I’m not surprised by your graph.

  7. I use Bloglines and am used to the quirky way it works. I can’t get past the “Gator” bad rap from when they used to put so much crap in their peer to peer software. I swore if I ever got all the nasty bits off my harddrive I’d never use anything with reptiles in the title again!

  8. I personally believe that desktop feedreaders are a waste of precious space on computers. G-Reader, Bloglines, are all perfectly capable readers without wasting space or time. The only downside is not being able to view feeds offline, which I think may be coming next to online feedreaders. Other than that, I just don’t see anything so compelling about desktop feedreaders.

  9. I was startled by the headline, until I read past it – I’d say that Google Reader, Bloglines, etc. are indeed feed readers – I don’t see the distinction between web-based readers and standalone readers isn’t very meaningful. Standalone software has never appealed to most users of feeds, and probably never will be.

    The reader isn’t dead, it just lives on the web.

  10. Good arguments on both sides but one that makes me smile is along the lines of what Corvida said, “…desktop feedreaders are a waste of precious space on computers”.

    It’s funny to me because space has become probably the least precious resource on my computer. Now that I store all my music, photos, recorded TV and videos on two external 500GB drives my internal 80GB hard-drive never gets more than 25% full.

    For all the benifits I get from using a desktop feed reader vs. a browser-based one I think I can spare 7MB for FeedDemon’s install.

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