Newsflash: 98% don’t use RSS

Dead 2.0 reminds us that the cup is way empty when it comes to RSS knowledge or usage.

Hmmm. The thing is back in 2000 it was “.0000001%.”
In 2006 it is “2%.”

That’s pretty sizeable growth. And the doubling effect continues.

Next year IE 7 ships with an RSS aggregator. Last week Maryam started using RSS for the first time.

Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

Why is RSS usage going to continue to double? Influencers are doing it. As long as the cool kids who go to FOOcamp keep using RSS the rest of us will start catching on and doing it too. Just watch.

Where’s the business opportunity? Well, if the doubling effect continues, let’s meet back here again in 2010 and compare who won and lost this game.

Every new technology has been derided this way. Remember when Ken Olsen, CEO of DEC, said “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home?”*

That’s the same sentiment that’s coming up here. On the other hand, if everyone instantly “got it” there wouldn’t be any business opportunity, would there?

*Yes, I realize Ken was quoted out of context back in 1977, the Snopes article that quote links to explains how that happened. Still, I’ve heard this over and over again throughout my career. It’s why big companies miss small things that then later go on to be important.

97 thoughts on “Newsflash: 98% don’t use RSS

  1. We want terminals? No we don’t, corporates do, but we don’t…we want fun surfing, email, IM, goofy things, ways to communicate, gaming, and social bond, find info and news, and just plain waste time, and even bad things, like porn. A terminal is a locked prison, and not everyone’s needs are the same. The Corporate Mainframe wasn’t it, the Network Computer wasn’t it, too centralized, but on the flipside, the Desktop is a nightmare…

    Iron-fist, no fun, or fun, but nightmareish chaos…pick your poison.

  2. We want terminals? No we don’t, corporates do, but we don’t…we want fun surfing, email, IM, goofy things, ways to communicate, gaming, and social bond, find info and news, and just plain waste time, and even bad things, like porn. A terminal is a locked prison, and not everyone’s needs are the same. The Corporate Mainframe wasn’t it, the Network Computer wasn’t it, too centralized, but on the flipside, the Desktop is a nightmare…

    Iron-fist, no fun, or fun, but nightmareish chaos…pick your poison.

  3. Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

    I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

    —————————————————-

    wow just relised if u wait for a month you end up with 5 million!

  4. Remember the old saw? Would you rather have $100,000 today or a penny doubled every day for a month?

    I can hang out and watch the doubling effect.

    —————————————————-

    wow just relised if u wait for a month you end up with 5 million!

  5. I think it will catch on when nobody has to think about it. I remember the early days of Windows where you had to add a TCP/IP, Netware, or DECnet program to get a PC communicating on a network. Things got a whole lot easier once Microsoft embedded TCP/IP into Windows.

    Internet Explorer 7 and Outlook 2007 do the same thing for RSS for the bulk of folks not already on other operating systems and web browsers (aka the majority of people.)

    I’ve been running the beta the last few months on my PC. IE7 makes the RSS readable with an easy subscribe button at top, and IE7 and Outlook sync RSS feeds so you can read the feeds like emails in Outlook. Very easy, no addons, no thinking… Heck, you hardly realize you’re doing RSS.

  6. I think it will catch on when nobody has to think about it. I remember the early days of Windows where you had to add a TCP/IP, Netware, or DECnet program to get a PC communicating on a network. Things got a whole lot easier once Microsoft embedded TCP/IP into Windows.

    Internet Explorer 7 and Outlook 2007 do the same thing for RSS for the bulk of folks not already on other operating systems and web browsers (aka the majority of people.)

    I’ve been running the beta the last few months on my PC. IE7 makes the RSS readable with an easy subscribe button at top, and IE7 and Outlook sync RSS feeds so you can read the feeds like emails in Outlook. Very easy, no addons, no thinking… Heck, you hardly realize you’re doing RSS.

  7. It’s for this reason that I became a big fan of FeedBlitz. It pings your feed and serves it up as an opt-in email.

    I personally prefer RSS as a delivery vehicle, but I realize it’s not for everyone.

  8. It’s for this reason that I became a big fan of FeedBlitz. It pings your feed and serves it up as an opt-in email.

    I personally prefer RSS as a delivery vehicle, but I realize it’s not for everyone.

  9. Robert,

    You’re on the money here. As people understand the power of this information stream more business uses will occur. This is like the early days of news when folks were rowing out to meet the ships to get the latest information from travelers. Reuters anyone??

  10. Robert,

    You’re on the money here. As people understand the power of this information stream more business uses will occur. This is like the early days of news when folks were rowing out to meet the ships to get the latest information from travelers. Reuters anyone??

  11. The thing about rss is you can explain it all you like but what really gets people to grok it is to just use it. If you can get somebody to use a good reader for a couple weeks, they will experience the value of it in the same way you do. Explaining it just doesn’t explain it.

    Probably the biggest thing to happen with rss will be Outlook 2K7. That will also be its biggest problem in the workplace. I can just see a bunch of CEOs and presidents scratching their heads over this. They still see computers as fancy typewriter replacements. They’re going to see this as a new way for people to not do their work.

    And by the way, isn’t Flickr just wildly popular, these days? Surely it wasn’t because the kewl kids and early adopters were using it? You can’t tell me it was all popular and mainstream right from the beginning. How about Google? Google wasn’t mainstream at first. How about email? How about listening to mp3s? The cycle of adoption from edge to mainstream may not turn at a constant rate, but whether it applies to RSS certainly is not arguable. It applies to everything.

  12. The thing about rss is you can explain it all you like but what really gets people to grok it is to just use it. If you can get somebody to use a good reader for a couple weeks, they will experience the value of it in the same way you do. Explaining it just doesn’t explain it.

    Probably the biggest thing to happen with rss will be Outlook 2K7. That will also be its biggest problem in the workplace. I can just see a bunch of CEOs and presidents scratching their heads over this. They still see computers as fancy typewriter replacements. They’re going to see this as a new way for people to not do their work.

    And by the way, isn’t Flickr just wildly popular, these days? Surely it wasn’t because the kewl kids and early adopters were using it? You can’t tell me it was all popular and mainstream right from the beginning. How about Google? Google wasn’t mainstream at first. How about email? How about listening to mp3s? The cycle of adoption from edge to mainstream may not turn at a constant rate, but whether it applies to RSS certainly is not arguable. It applies to everything.

  13. I’ve only started using RSS recently… and for one simple reason: full text.

    When I downloaded my first aggregator a few years back, almost all of the feeds were summaries — and if I wanted to read the whole article, I had to go to the website. So, I thought, “Why not save my bookmarks and just go to the website first?” It seemed like all RSS did was give me one MORE step in information gathering. Plus, the aggregator at the time (I forget which one, but there weren’t many) wouldn’t display photos.

    Just last week, I got SharpReader, and I’ve seen the light. Most of the “better” blogs publish full text, and SharpReader is insanely easy to use and intuitive. Unfortuntely, I wish the regular news sites would publish full articles… but I’ll take what I can.

  14. I’ve only started using RSS recently… and for one simple reason: full text.

    When I downloaded my first aggregator a few years back, almost all of the feeds were summaries — and if I wanted to read the whole article, I had to go to the website. So, I thought, “Why not save my bookmarks and just go to the website first?” It seemed like all RSS did was give me one MORE step in information gathering. Plus, the aggregator at the time (I forget which one, but there weren’t many) wouldn’t display photos.

    Just last week, I got SharpReader, and I’ve seen the light. Most of the “better” blogs publish full text, and SharpReader is insanely easy to use and intuitive. Unfortuntely, I wish the regular news sites would publish full articles… but I’ll take what I can.

  15. “But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically.” (Ken Olsen, I beleive)

    Wow! Now that someone gave a quote, I can truly appreciate the genius of Ken Olsen. He is right, we do NOT need _desktops_. They are nightmare to maintain, in both organizations and at home. We want terminals. The only thing he did not know is that the industry will decide to go the desktop route first before accepting the terminal concept.

    Of course, anyone can easily guess that our terminals today are web browsers. It is far from ideal. Web applications suffer from numerous limitations. But it is a step in the right direction. Also, Google makes a tremendious push to move all the data on the Internet from desktops and “terminalize” access.

    Anyway, it seems to happen quite often with great visions: they turn out to be correct, but with a delay from a couple of years to a couple of decades.

    Cramer

  16. “But we still believe that most people in an organization want terminals. Terminals you don’t have to worry about data management, you don’t have to worry about floppy disks. You just sit down and it does the work for you automatically.” (Ken Olsen, I beleive)

    Wow! Now that someone gave a quote, I can truly appreciate the genius of Ken Olsen. He is right, we do NOT need _desktops_. They are nightmare to maintain, in both organizations and at home. We want terminals. The only thing he did not know is that the industry will decide to go the desktop route first before accepting the terminal concept.

    Of course, anyone can easily guess that our terminals today are web browsers. It is far from ideal. Web applications suffer from numerous limitations. But it is a step in the right direction. Also, Google makes a tremendious push to move all the data on the Internet from desktops and “terminalize” access.

    Anyway, it seems to happen quite often with great visions: they turn out to be correct, but with a delay from a couple of years to a couple of decades.

    Cramer

  17. BTW, where is CB Radio today? Weren’t all the Kool Kidz using CB Radio at one time? Along with Betamax? Didn’t the “influencers” get all excited about that technology at one time? Wonder why they weren’t successful keeping it going. ;-)

  18. BTW, where is CB Radio today? Weren’t all the Kool Kidz using CB Radio at one time? Along with Betamax? Didn’t the “influencers” get all excited about that technology at one time? Wonder why they weren’t successful keeping it going. ;-)

  19. hi,
    I do have an aggregator account but never use it to go through blogs I like (I like only about 20 blogs or so)….so don’t really feel the need for an Aggregator. I put it all on the Blogroll and visit them out of my blog.

  20. hi,
    I do have an aggregator account but never use it to go through blogs I like (I like only about 20 blogs or so)….so don’t really feel the need for an Aggregator. I put it all on the Blogroll and visit them out of my blog.

  21. The problem is that you don’t know if RSS is on the 14th day or the 30th. The “all the cool kids” argument doesn’t work – all the cool kids have been using Linux or Macs for years, and I don’t see the market shares of those products growing fast.

    RSS will grow, of course. Whether it will be a mass market product depends on the applications people build with it, not the technology itself. What you and others are forgetting is that RSS is an enabler, not a product.

  22. The problem is that you don’t know if RSS is on the 14th day or the 30th. The “all the cool kids” argument doesn’t work – all the cool kids have been using Linux or Macs for years, and I don’t see the market shares of those products growing fast.

    RSS will grow, of course. Whether it will be a mass market product depends on the applications people build with it, not the technology itself. What you and others are forgetting is that RSS is an enabler, not a product.

  23. I started a magazine called ‘The World Wide Web Newsletter’ in 1993 because I knew that this was important and I wanted to evangelise it. For the first few years, a lot of very clever people would dismiss my pitch with the line ‘Isn’t it just CB radio all over again’. Well, it probably took those clever people another couple of years to get it. But get it they did in the end.

  24. I started a magazine called ‘The World Wide Web Newsletter’ in 1993 because I knew that this was important and I wanted to evangelise it. For the first few years, a lot of very clever people would dismiss my pitch with the line ‘Isn’t it just CB radio all over again’. Well, it probably took those clever people another couple of years to get it. But get it they did in the end.

  25. I asked a guy I work with yesterday (cutting edge gaming company) if he had an interesting Feeds to share.

    Not only did he not know what they were, but couldn’t understand them.

    Even when I popped up bloglines his response was along the lines of ‘But why don’t you just go to each page?’

  26. I asked a guy I work with yesterday (cutting edge gaming company) if he had an interesting Feeds to share.

    Not only did he not know what they were, but couldn’t understand them.

    Even when I popped up bloglines his response was along the lines of ‘But why don’t you just go to each page?’

  27. “Where’s the business opportunity?”

    Still always thinking about the monies ;)
    Where’s the business opportunity in HTML? Oh, wait, you mean browsers are free? And so are RSS readers.

    (as a side note, all browsers suck at RSS. Get a dedicated RSS reader)

  28. “Where’s the business opportunity?”

    Still always thinking about the monies ;)
    Where’s the business opportunity in HTML? Oh, wait, you mean browsers are free? And so are RSS readers.

    (as a side note, all browsers suck at RSS. Get a dedicated RSS reader)

  29. @28. “Introduce people to RSS….”??? That is the WRONG strategy. That would be like me introducing my Mom to POP, IMAP, and SMTP so she could “get” email. Outside of the geeks and wanna-be Geeks in the blogosphere no one cares WHAT makes up the technology. Just show them why getting automagic updates to their favorite web sites might be a cool thing to have. On the other hand, go ahead, do the Jay Leno “man on the street” question about RSS and see how far you get.

    Geezus! It’s NOT about the technology.

  30. @28. “Introduce people to RSS….”??? That is the WRONG strategy. That would be like me introducing my Mom to POP, IMAP, and SMTP so she could “get” email. Outside of the geeks and wanna-be Geeks in the blogosphere no one cares WHAT makes up the technology. Just show them why getting automagic updates to their favorite web sites might be a cool thing to have. On the other hand, go ahead, do the Jay Leno “man on the street” question about RSS and see how far you get.

    Geezus! It’s NOT about the technology.

  31. With the release and adoption of the Microsoft Office Suite and other Office Server products such as SharePoint, RSS will begin to take off like email did several years ago. Corporate users (who aren’t tech people) will start to understand what the RSS icon is and what it does once they start using it in these and competing new products. With portals becoming a more common method of finding and creating data for internal corporate consumption, RSS will become much more important. I think it will become nearly as important as e-mail in the next 4 years. This will be especially true with the majority using Outlook and the new 2007 version incorporating an RSS reader out of the box.

  32. With the release and adoption of the Microsoft Office Suite and other Office Server products such as SharePoint, RSS will begin to take off like email did several years ago. Corporate users (who aren’t tech people) will start to understand what the RSS icon is and what it does once they start using it in these and competing new products. With portals becoming a more common method of finding and creating data for internal corporate consumption, RSS will become much more important. I think it will become nearly as important as e-mail in the next 4 years. This will be especially true with the majority using Outlook and the new 2007 version incorporating an RSS reader out of the box.

  33. I’m surprised the number is that low. You know what I think? It means there’s still a huge opportunity to introduce people to RSS and evangelize it. I was a bit of a late comer to RSS, and the more I use it, the more completely indispensible I find it.

  34. I’m surprised the number is that low. You know what I think? It means there’s still a huge opportunity to introduce people to RSS and evangelize it. I was a bit of a late comer to RSS, and the more I use it, the more completely indispensible I find it.

  35. I just turned my mother on to a feed reader two weeks ago, so I’m not surprised to hear that Maryam just started using them too. Though I agree with the continued doubling, I think there is going to be a hockey stick inflection point in the RSS adoption curve VERY soon.

  36. I just turned my mother on to a feed reader two weeks ago, so I’m not surprised to hear that Maryam just started using them too. Though I agree with the continued doubling, I think there is going to be a hockey stick inflection point in the RSS adoption curve VERY soon.

  37. I think RSS almost has to win. What’s the alternative? WS-Eventing? WS-Notification? The world needs some kind of simple publish and subscribe mechanism… something where a user can say, “Let me know when this changes.”

    There are lots of other examples of large companies missing the boat, you don’t have to pick on DEC. :-) Intel thought the microprocessor was a dumb idea, for example….

    I agree DEC didn’t really “get” the PC. The way I remember it, they were kind of late to the game, and their PCs were always sort of bizarrely incompatible with all other PCs. AND more expensive to boot. Sort of like Apple used to be. LOL

    Like Apple, they always had good-looking hardware. The front panel on a PDP-11/70… you know, back in the day, that seemed soooo futuristic… now where did I put my RSX-11M manual….

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