Place: The Missing P in RSS
I continue to read article after article about RSS. These articles ponder why RSS, a superior product to say e-mail or general bumping around the web, with a free price, and no shortage of cheerleaders has not “caught on” more with the general public. Most people who actually use RSS are members of the “digerati” or just plain geeks like me. To dorks like us, it makes no sense not to use RSS. We beam with delight at the little orange icon that delivers relevant content from the web to us like the junkies we are. Still to the majority of the public RSS is a mystery. I propose that will all change, and change soon, thanks to the company you probably love to hate, Microsoft.
Let me be clear, Microsoft did not invent RSS. Microsoft, in my opinion, does not have the best web browser or email client. Further still, Microsoft is way behind the leaders in the industry when it comes to RSS technology. Here is the thing, so are most people. Microsoft will bring RSS to the masses because of Place also known as Distribution. Where others have failed Microsoft will succeed. Here is why. A great deal of Americans, especially those in business, rely on Outlook to manage their lives. They use it for scheduling, managing meetings, and more importantly for email. It is their communication channel. It is the software of choice for corporate America. People are comfortable using the Outlook interface, and it is firmly entrenched. That being stated, when you try to explain RSS and RSS Readers to many of these people, they go cross-eyed. “I need to go to what site?” “Atom, XML, OPML…Huh?” “My Yahoo, Personalized Google, Firefox: what are you saying man?” It is too much work, and requires existing behaviors to change.
Sure the other 3 P’s are in line, but changing habits and systems is something most will resist. That will change as Office 2007 is released. The new version of Outlook has a folder dedicated to RSS Feeds. It delivers them in a way that looks exactly like the good old fashioned e-mail people are comfortable with using. The folder features dozens of feeds that are ready to be loaded with one click and detailed instructions on adding more. This is what people want. “Give me all the good feature of RSS, like I want it, not like you want it.” The difference is subtle and the technology is not new, but the mechanism for place is a tested road. A road that people will follow. Sure, those of us who have been into RSS wandered down that road long ago. It was a road less traveled. With RSS embedded seamlessly in Outlook, the road will be the road more traveled, and that will make all the difference. (my apologies to Mr. Frost)
Those of you in Marketing take heed. RSS will surge in popularity in the next year. You need to understand it. It will replace or at least reinforce the methods you currently rely on to deliver message to the world. For those of you who, like me, love RSS and how it changes the web, look happily toward the future. It is now. Do not mistake this as cheerleading for MS. I use Gmail, which has RSS built into it already. I also use Firefox, Bloglines, and tons of other geeky tools. I had an RSS problem that I used these great tools to solve. Most do not. Place – the final piece in the RSS puzzle.