Making stuff as a founder of Avocado. Former music-maker. Tuna melt advocate. Started Google Reader. (But smarter people made it great.)

Single-source feed readers can be improved.

There's been some recent developments in single-vendor or limited-vendor reading software and I wonder if this is the best direction for vendors with highly-desirable content, particularly when there's clear and widespread interest in creating software that helps people overcome information overload from multiple sources.

Screenshot of the TimesReader, a single-source collaboration between Micrsoft and The New York Times. Image captured by Flickr user, sdk
TimesReader screenshot.

I sympathize with content vendors, they must be frustrated by what appears to be a devaluing of their product, especially due to feed syndication. But why not leverage the popularity of others' content alongside their own? If they feel they have to attempt a branded strategy I suspect they could improve their success in a competitive market and address the needs of their readers by creating a feed reader that can read any public feed from any site and whose added value is that of delivering, as full content, stuff previously only released as snippets or partial feeds.

Except that, as I can attest to personally, creating a world-class feed reader that can compete in this space is very, very difficult.

The New York Times has partnered with Microsoft to help create an offline reader, so I wonder if we'll see vendor relationships with web software companies that can scale to world readership. If so, would these efforts be about creating extended-single-source readers or would they explore some other kind of partnerships?

I'm not exactly wondering idly.
posted at February 25, 2007, 7:39 PM


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