Is RSS adoption peaking?

On Monday, technology analyst house Forrester released a report that demonstrated consumer adoption of RSS had reached 11 per cent (versus almost 50 per cent of interactive marketers) and wonders:

What’s holding RSS back?” (available to you for just $279.00)

The report, as blogged by Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion, included the following chart:

So, with just 3 per cent of the 1,900 U.S. adults who frequently go online and who don’t currently use RSS, “very interested” in using RSS in the future, is RSS as a technology reaching it’s zenith? Is it destined for use by a committed, yet niche audience?


RSS use is only just getting started

RSS may not be used actively by consumers but the people who are design Web sites and online applications sure are using RSS. Look at the 110 million people on Facebook who use RSS via the “news feed” option.

So what if the user is unaware of the technology they are using? I have no idea how a phone works so if someone were to ask me if I used a small widget or doobery-whatsit that is essential to making a phone work, I would say that”No, I don’t and that I probably don’t have any interest in using one in the future.

RSS by itself is a fairly scary acronym. No one knows what it stands for and those that do, do a poor job of explaining it. For all my grandmother knows, RSS could be the name of the hamster running around in her laptop when she turns it on.

Even my own analogy to describe RSS is pretty awful. Seth Godin has the best RSS analogy when he says:

“RSS is a little like radio. Every blog and many news services ‘broadcast’ a tiny little signal that you can’t hear, but your RSS reader can. (It’s like a radio tuner). You tell the RSS reader which blogs and news feeds you like, and whenever it senses that signal, it goes out and grabs the post for you. Quick and free. With a good reader, you can easily keep up with 100 blogs in less than an hour.”

Google is also trying to promote the hell out of RSS because it owns a) the biggest blogging platform in the world (Blogger) and b) the biggest RSS provider in the world (Feedburner). Blogger is now promoting its own “Follow” feature which will be a quick, easy and utterly passive way to introduce RSS to the main stream.


Finally, let’s not confuse the technology itself with the objective it is trying to serve. RSS makes it easier for people to consume information quickly on the Internet.

Does it matter if people know what it’s called or what it does? Does it even matter if people know that they’re using it?



7 Responses to Is RSS adoption peaking?

  1. Holly says:

    Huh! I didn’t know this. Great, informative post. I’ve been a little spoiled by Google Reader, so I just assumed everyone was aware of or using RSS feeds. Just shows how we can create our niches on the web and aply those traits to all users.

  2. […] of the rest of the population, in this case, I think my pattern is pretty typical for the small 11% of the online population that uses feedreaders (Forrester […]

  3. […] more on RSS, I suggest you read this blog post by Ed Lee and this one by Connie Crosby about the need for simpler […]

  4. Sonja says:

    I’m a newbie to the blogging scene, and I think RSS has more growth in it, because I just got my frist RSS feed reader — from NewsGator — set up. My daughter just set hers up this month. I think there’s lots of people who regularly read things on the web, who are currently switching their focus from print journalism, who will be joining the RSS reader group.

  5. Stacy says:

    Great points about Facebook and Blogger and RSS being used by the masses in a more comfortable and easy-to-adopt terminology. Great article Ed.

  6. […] Is RSS adoption peaking? « Ed Lee's Blogging Me Bloging You […]

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