Bloglines fixed, and why they’re good for competition

Issues with RSS Reader Bloglines reported widely over the weekend have been rectified, according to a post on the Bloglines blog. The issues saw some sites failing to be indexed by Bloglines, limiting Bloglines readers in what they could and couldn’t read.

The owned RSS reading service has had a chequered history since being acquired in February 2005. The service was ignored for over a year at a time Google was driving innovation with Google Reader, and many long term users (including myself) switched. Last year the light bulb was switched on at Bloglines, and the site started rolling out changes and new features, some of them industry leading, delivering a more interesting, and somewhat different service to Google Reader.

Although some users have continued to switch to Google Reader, Bloglines has maintained a loyal base of users, and has managed to attract news users; Compete data shows traffic on Bloglines in September 2008 being nearly equal to the September 2007 figure, demonstrating that for the users it has lost, others have taken their place. Bloglines remains a great gateway RSS service for first time users vs Google Reader, which is more barren and functional, vs the more user friendly and inviting Bloglines.

The need to push Bloglines under a bus due to a weekend glitch, and a glib comment from the sites founder, isn’t supported by facts. Companies have problems from time to time; yes, Google Reader may be more reliable, but so are most things from Google, and even Google has outages from time to time.

Bloglines is also good for competition. We need Bloglines to keep Google honest, and to continue innovation in this space. I’ll let Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb explain:

Google Reader, despite its market dominance, superior feature set and burning love from user/advocates, should not be the end of RSS reader development. Google’s control over huge stores of information, including your reading history, isn’t an unconditional good….

Do you really want Google to nail down complete dominance over the world of RSS? We sure don’t. We want to see a multitude of viable companies offering competing feature sets, being responsive to their users’ needs and innovating. In other words, Long Live Bloglines!

Marshall shared his passion for Bloglines in his original headline on that post, but perhaps site owner Richard MacManus, generally regarded as a nice guy who doesn’t like upsetting people changed it, because the headline on the site is different to what it started as. I liked the first one more, but maybe that’s just me 🙂