A look into RSS feeds managed by Google

rss Last weekend, all my RSS feeds that have been managed by Feedburner over the past four years were auto-migrated to Google.

This is a culmination of a process arising from Google’s acquisition of Feedburner in mid 2007 where all RSS feeds hosted by Feedburner will be moved over to a new RSS service Google established.

It’s also related to Google Adsense. Indeed, my RSS feed will carry advertising, just as it has done for the past two years when the Feedburner Ad Network existed. Incidentally, I have no plans to enable advertising in the blog.

One result of the migration of RSS feeds is that the addresses for all feeds change. So, for instance, this site’s primary content feed is now http://feedproxy.google.com/Nevillehobsoncom. That change is transparent, though – you will not notice any difference if you are an RSS subscriber using the previous Feedburner URL (which is http://feeds.feedburner.com/Nevillehobsoncom): you’ll continue to get the content you want in your preferred RSS reader.

All is not smooth for some with migrations, though, as this Known Issues and Workarounds page indicates.

Speaking of RSS readers, I was looking at the stats display to see what RSS readers subscribers were using.


The overwhelming majority of subscribers – about 43 percent – use Google Reader or iGoogle to get the content from this blog. That’s what Google Feedfetcher does (you can see part of the name in the image above): it’s how Google grabs feeds when users subscribe to them in Google Reader or iGoogle.

Next popular is Bloglines at about 23 percent, followed by NewsGator Online at about 12 percent. Then there’s Netvibes at about 7.5 percent, and what the stats define as Windows RSS Platform  – typically, Internet Explorer and Outlook – at a distant 1.7 percent.

I find it quite significant that the majority of subscribers – getting close to 90 percent – subscribe to this blog’s primary RSS feed via a web-based RSS reader rather than with a desktop application (which is my own preference).

Is that an indicator of the appeal of the cloud? Or just that it’s so easy to use a web-based feed reader? (I suspect the latter.)

The ‘Other’ stat is quite interesting. It’s not defined with a number of total subscribers but it takes in all other means by which the balance of subscribers to the total shown in the stats get the content via the RSS feed.

And the stats show an extraordinary number of different RSS aggregators that would fall into the ‘Other’ category – some 83 different methods including some familiar names like FeedDemon, MyYahoo, NetNewsWire, Newsgator Mobile, Firefox Live Bookmarks, Wikio and MySyndicaat.

(I’m noting that four of the products mentioned here – NewsGator Online, FeedDemon, NetNewsWire and Newsgator Mobile – are owned by the same company. Not a bad position.)

What a fragmented market! Although it’s now dominated by Google, it does show the enormously different ways people have at their disposal to get hold of your content.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Derek Pillie

    Great post, I'd suggest that perhaps people are moving to web-based readers in part because they're moving to web-based apps in general. I've found that I'm using my Office suite less and less and I finally severed the umbilical cord and ditched IE for FireFox. Ultimately the flexibility of being able to take your work with you than to throw it on a flash drive and hope there won't be compatibility issues when you start using the other PC.

    I started off in Bloglines and moved to Google Reader ultimately because Reader helped me get through my feeds much more quickly. I switched to FireFox from IE for the same reason – I get going a lot more quickly. Web based apps allow me to get right to what needs to be done. I'm sure they'll get more robust as time goes on.

    Just a thought, I think people reading feeds are also going to be the most early adopter types, so you're going to see them on more browser-based apps than you would the general population.

  2. Richard Bailey

    I use Google Reader not out support for a concept ('cloud computing') but for practical reasons: I can get updates without being tied to one desk. The common sign-in with Google Mail and other Google apps is also an asset.

    The one drawback with Google Reader I've noticed is the time delay from post to update (though this doesn't seem to apply to all blogs or news sources – can anyone explain this anomaly?)

  3. Russell

    On my feeds I get about the same ratio as your subscribers, but in a miniature version…
    It's Flock's in-built reader for my own use, great functionality but my it drains the memory on my turn-of-the-century Dell box. Overall I think the decision is based on ease of use – I like the integration with my browser as it makes the experience more seamless and I can have several windows open when I'm blogging about several different blogs. I wonder if anyone has any metrics or polling data on what peeps like about their chosen reader, or don't like for that matter?!

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