Sunday, April 5, 2009

Your blitz is on my list - FeedBurner competition?

Sorry for the title, but there's been a lot of Hall and Oates in the lastfmfeeds room at FriendFeed lately, courtesy user rosevictor. Although if you were depending upon FeedBurner to keep you updated about the goings-on in the lastfmfeeds room, you might just now be finding out about U2's new album.

You see, FeedBurner has this little itty bitty problem with updating its feeds in a timely manner. Perhaps you saw my frustrated six-part series of posts on my FeedProxy/FeedBurner problems in late March (here's post 6 if you missed the thing).

In this FAIL atmosphwere, Louis Gray has come up with an interesting post that begins as follows:

A week and a half ago, FeedBlitz announced it would be taking Google head on, offering a much-needed alternative to FeedBurner in the RSS automation space.

Much-needed? Gray provides his own anecdotes:

FeedBurner and Google seem to not be on speaking terms once again. It happens so often now, nobody blogs about it but not too long ago, such a miss would be ripe for the gnashing of teeth. But said miss has dropped my counts from the 4700 or so range to 1400 and 1800. Who knows why, but the number is pretty random. Even my wife's family-oriented blog dumped from almost 50 subscribers to less than 20. Ouch.

But more damaging than Gray's anecdote is the set of links that he provides in his post, including a link to the Feedblitz item How to Migrate your FeedBurner Feeds.

And even more damaging than that? This statement from Gray:

So if you're sick of FeedBurner burning you, I strongly suggest giving FeedBlitz a try. I'm working my way over to switching myself. You can see my FeedBlitzed feed here:

I just added that particular feed to my Google Reader feeds, and now can keep track of not only Gray's posts, but also his FriendFeed and Twitter items, straight from my Google Reader window. You may recall that I've experimented with using Google Reader as a front end for FriendFeed (my three-part post series on THAT begins here). While I didn't continue much of the experiment when I shifted identities from Ontario Emperor to John E. Bredehoft, Gray's new feed lets me easily find his activities.

Now one can say, "Who cares what feed service Louis Gray uses?" and complain about this and that, using words like "elitist" and "Scoble" and what have you. But all of that is missing the point - whether it's Louis Gray leaving FeedBurner or...or me leaving FeedBurner, this is an issue that FeedBurner needs to address. If you have customers that are so dissatisfied with their service that they're willing to tell two other people...or 4700-I mean 1400-I mean 1800 people...then you have a problem that you need to address.

I compare the situation to the Twitter situation in early 2008. Twitter uptime sucked, and Twitter wasn't being all that communicative (as I complained in an April 2008 post). But Twitter got the message and not only worked on improving its service, but also communicated what it was doing much more effectively. As a result of both of these initiatives, Twitter has a much more positive impression in the public eye these days (I linked to one item). And Twitter's failures and lack of communication are mostly a distant memory today.

Will FeedBurner take steps to overcome the negative impressions of the service, or will Google let Feedblitz and others slide in?

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