Seems like it’s that time of the year again, when people pile on about the supposed death of RSS. It’s dead, it’s not, wahh, etc.
Here’s the truth about RSS.
It’s a fine back-end technology.
It’s great for syndicating content from one place to another.
It’s nice for fetching headlines, or for powering pretty tools like Flipboard.
And sure, it’s helpful for media- and tech nerd-types who want to skim through hundreds or thousands of headlines and blog posts at a time. (Many have moved to Twitter for that. But those automated Twitter feeds are often powered by RSS. Whatever.)
But reading news by RSS reader just isn’t mainstream, has never been, and probably will never be.
Hitwise tells us that Google Reader, the top RSS reader, got about 700,000 visits in the U.S. last week. Comscore tells us that Google Reader got about 1.4 million U.S. visitors in November. Those stats are nothing to sneeze at, but it’s just not that many people using Google Reader, compared to the web visits for mainstream news sites like CNN.com or Yahoo News.
RSS (“really simple syndication”) isn’t going away as a syndication technology. But plain-old RSS readers just have never been a massive, mainstream tool for directly consuming news, or delivering ads. And there’s no reason to believe that will change.