RSS Readers: Narrowing Down Your Choices

If Microsoft starts showing support for RSS, or really simple syndication, then they will become even more popular than they already are.

So, which RSS readers will people end up choosing to use to read all of the bulletins that are constantly being updated? A, more importantly, which one will the business that you work for pick?

Microsoft announced recently that it would release an updated browser with complete RSS support. This means that websites and blogs that offer RSS content will be automatically detected, and icons will appear on the toolbar, making it easy for you to subscriber to regular updates. Firefox has a similar feature already.

The best reading experience for RSS, however, isn’t found in the browser itself, but in an application that has been specifically designed for a wide variety of RSS content. Let’s check out what your choices are.

There is only a small group of internet users that have ever subscribed to an RSS feed, but there are now more than 10 million blogs around the world. RSS is growing rapidly as a result, you might have guessed. Because RSS is super simple, everyone seems to be wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

Wikipedia links to more than 130 different RSS readers, which includes applications designed for Unix, Macs, and Windows. This means that there aren’t too many companies that are going to install and try out all of the individual programs so that they can choose what works best for them. This is why it’s necessary to narrow down a market like this, and potentially only look at the most popular of choices.

Growing Super-Fast

Eric Lunt knows a fair bit about RSS feeds, and he currently manages the technical side of things for more than 70,000 of them. This includes both big and small blogs alike. He was able to extract a bit of information around how many RSS readers are spending time on these blogs, which we will show you in the table below:

Table 1: Top 20 RSS Readers of FeedBurner-Served FeedsMy Yahoo* — 59.02%;
Bloglines* — 10.42%;
Firefox Live Bookmarks — 4.20%;
NetNewsWire — 3.74%;
iTunes — 3.37%;
iPodder — 2.38%;NewsGator Online* — 1.82%;
Pluck — 1.59%;
FeedDemon — 1.56%;
Reader not identified — 1.02%;
Apple CFNetwork Generic Client — 0.96%;
SharpReader — 0.86%;
Thunderbird — 0.82%;
Safari RSS — OS X Tiger — 0.61%;
iPodderX — 0.54%;
LiveJournal — 0.52%;
NewsGator Outlook Edition — 0.51%;
RSS Bandit — 0.50%;
RssReader — 0.34%, and
Opera RSS Reader — 0.33%,

So, as you can see from the information above, it appears that My Yahoo gets more readers looking at its content than the rest of the top 20 combined. However, Lunt thinks otherwise. He says, “we have a few very, very popular feeds at the top of the list – things that show up by default on a new My Yahoo page, for example. So these results are skewed somewhat by these popular feeds.”

So, it’s a lot more interesting to look at the top 20 list with the 10 default feeds taken away. Let’s check them out in Table 2:

Table 2: Top 20 RSS Readers (excluding 10 most popular feeds)Bloglines* — 19.49%;
NetNewsWire — 10.07%;
iTunes — 9.53%;
Firefox Live Bookmarks — 7.25%;
iPodder — 7.17%;
My Yahoo* — 6.68%;
FeedDemon — 4.23%;
NewsGator Online* — 3.83%;
Reader not identified — 3.07%;
Pluck — 2.07%;
SharpReader — 1.91%;
iPodderX — 1.77%;
Thunderbird — 1.75%;
Safari RSS — OS X Tiger — 1.75%;
LiveJournal — 1.44%;
NewsGator Outlook Edition — 1.27%;
Apple CFNetwork Generic Client — 1.21%;
RSS Bandit — 0.99%;
Opera RSS Reader — 0.90%, and
Sage — 0.82%.

So, as you can see, the second table shows a market that is still extremely fragmented. Seventeen individual aggregators have more than 1% of the current user base.

Lunt says, “the market becomes more and more fragmented every time we measure it, which indicates that we’re still very much on the innovation upswing.”

You can see this in how varied the applications on the list above are. When it comes to client-based aggregators, the range of programs that they are tapping into is greatly varied.

Unique Advantages

Another thing that is really interesting about this is that client-based aggregators are the web-based readers that you see in the tables.

This means that if you read your RSS feeds list on your computer one day, and then on your laptop the next day, the easiest way to keep these synced up is to read your news online.

If you sign up for an account and register, then you will get the same updates on both devices.

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