RSS and sliced bread

RSS and sliced bread
: Lots of people are jumping on the mail-is-dead-long-live-RSS bandwagon. See Chris Pirillo and Steve Outing. In theory, I agree: RSS is a good delivery mechanism for newsletters (but clearly not personal email) because there can be no spam; you get only the feeds you ask for.

But, as I’ve said before, there’s a problem: RSS readers are not ready for prime time. They’re getting better. After Newzcrawler ate all my feed info and hard work, I started using Bloglines, web-based reader, and, by Outing’s recommendation, Feed Demon, a downloaded client and they’re both good. (Yeah, I know, you Macites have great readers but you are, sadly, a minority smaller than one-legged, left-handed, stuttering, albino Navajos.)

Here’s the problem: The audience using RSS readers is tiny. That isn’t going to stop me from publishing lots of RSS in my business — headlines and, yes, newsletters. It’s a good thing and a coming trend.

But the truth remains: If you’re an email newsletter publisher and you have to convince your customers to have to download and set up a new program, you’re sunk.

The only way RSS is going to work for business is if it is integrated into Internet Explorer.

So, at last, here’s my point for all the RSS evangelists out there: You should be making a pilgrimage to Redmond to sell Microsoft on the need to integrate RSS into IE (as well as Outlook). Pirillo, Winer, et al: Hop that next jet west. And there are lots of RSS-informed Microsoft bloggers; enlist them in the cause; get them to start selling RSS inside the fortress.

That is the one sure thing that will make RSS take off. Without that, sad but true, RSS will remain just a neat geek thing.

: A commenter reminds me of a point I forgot to make: Of course, the Mozilla folks and other open-sourcers should be integrating RSS into their work to put additional pressure on Redmond. But, of course, IE is the homerun for it is the ubiquitous client.

Oh, and putting pressure on AOL would be good, too. AOL is providing RSS feeds of its new blogs (pat them on the back) but not providing its huge audience with a way to utilize them (hello, left hand, I’d like you to meet the right hand).