If 2004 was the year of the blog, then could 2005 be the year of RSS?
We are in the very earliest stages of this new technology. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Study, only 5% of Internet users use RSS readers (PDF) today.
However, activity surrounding RSS is heating up. It seems like not a week goes by that some new service pops up for RSS. The pace of new development is dizzying. You know exciting innovation is happening when the venture capitalists start circling.
Because this is an emerging market, we can expect considerable confusion before the dust clears. Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital, makes this very point. He recently wrote that we have entered the “me too” phase where everyone is jumping on the RSS bandwagon, including venture capitalists hungry for deals:
“The cliche ‘watching a car wreck in slow motion’ comes to mind. It’s definitely fun in a sick sort of way. Welcome to the me too zone – I believe we just entered it for the RSS / blog world. There is a huge adoption (and innovation) curve ahead of everyone who is doing stuff with RSS / blogging – and there are plenty of good investments left to make and companies to create – but the noise and clutter is about to get really loud.”
It’s true that it may be a car wreck for VCs and some fledging startups. That’s what always happens in an emerging market. Giving birth is never painless; moreover, it’s messy. Many of the startups surely won’t make it.
On the other hand, for content publishers and average Web surfers, it’s a heady time. We’re about to have a smorgasbord of choice laid at our feet. And given the price points of online services these days, many will be low cost or free.
Regardless of which companies make it, content publishers and content consumers will be better off. We’ll end up with powerful new RSS services that we can barely conceive of today, because they are still a glimmer in some entrepreneur’s eye. We will use them for marketing and public relations. And the way we access and consume online information will be revolutionized.
In many ways I find RSS more exciting than the blog phenomenom. I think RSS has even more business potential. And so far we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of what RSS can do.
In a previous post I explain why RSS is so exciting and why it’s about a lot more than simply reading feeds in feedreaders.