Wednesday, March 16, 2005

MSN and Yahoo: "We loves them RSS feeds!"

of my main journal will know that I originally learned about RSS earlier this year in a kind of embarrassing way - basically, only after the web portal MyMSN started letting users subscribe to them. (I don't have home internet access, so up to then hadn't realized that there were web-based RSS readers in existence; soon after I started using MyMSN, though, a reader alerted me to Bloglines, which is what I currently use.) Well, as reported by Ziff Davis' eWeek magazine, apparently both MSN and Yahoo have really caught the RSS bug recently, and are quietly starting to offer services that may change the entire future of RSS' popularity.

MSN, for example, instead of attempting to beef up their portal site, is starting a brand-new service instead, which according to them is eventually going to become a full-featured web-based RSS aggregator, just like Bloglines currently works. And even more interesting, those with an account will be able to add RSS feeds based on searches they've done at MSN search, just like such places like currently do. (That's the only part they have working right now, in fact - you can click here to try it out yourself.) Meanwhile, Yahoo is sticking with their own portal, MyYahoo, as the means for users to subscribe to RSS feeds; recently, however, they changed the mobile version of their portal so that one's RSS feeds can be directly delivered to a cellphone or other mobile device. (Be warned that this is a stripped-down version of the portal, with not a very good interface, and with it only delivering the first 1,000 characters of any given RSS item. Those with full-featured web browsers on their mobile devices would be wise to just continue logging in to the main version. If you do visit, look for your feeds under the "Headlines" category.) It'll be interesting, I think, to see how these two new services will affect the growing awareness and popularity of RSS feeds on the web. (Oh, and thanks as always to Steve Rubel for pointing this out. How do you get so much good information, Steve? Oh, that's right, you subscribe to 1,800 feeds, I forgot.)