There’s all kinds of coverage today about Google’s plans for Google Reader but what is perhaps most interesting – at least to me – is how Google Reader has captured such a dominant position in the RSS market in such a short period of time.
You have to remember this was a market controlled by major players such as Bloglines, NewsGator and FeedDemon. But Google has not only established a foothold but clearly become one of the leading, if not the leading, RSS reader. Not that my network is representative of the general population but there aren’t many non-Google Readers these days.
The question is how did Google achieve this success when other efforts such as Okrut and Froogle failed so miserably while GMail has performed well but not been overwhelming? My sense is Google Reader’s done well because it’s user-friendly. The interface is clean, it’s easy to add new subscriptions using a seach term of URL, it has some nice features such as being able to share and highlight interesting posts, and it has a search tool. In other words, it’s just works – much like the Blackberry has succeeded because it does e-mail so well.
Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for any company to enjoy across the board success. Okrut never really caught the imagination of the Web community (outside of Brazil!). Maybe it has to do with the fact Okrut is a terrible name that sounds more like a disease than a cool social networking tool. As for Froogle, you could make an argument that the comparison-shopping market has never really taken off on the Web for whatever reason.
Trying to get a sense of Google’s strategic direction can be difficult given there are so many moving parts but it will be interesting to see what Google will do with a growing collection of blogging/RSS services that now includes Google Reader, FeedBurner, Urchin and Blogger. Can we expect to see some integration/inter-operability between them? And what about a blog publishing tool to compete against services such as Microsoft’s Live Writer?
More: Robert Scoble provides some personal insight into why he’s hooked on Google Reader. Scoble, who apparently has never meet an RSS feed he doesn’t like, now reads 832 feeds.