Why Feedburner is trouble, day 2
Monday, July 23, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Saturday's post about Feedburner was much-discussed, and that's good. The most common rebuttal was the user's ability to opt out. If you don't like it you don't have to use Feedburner. But that's not any kind of a rebuttal. Let me illustrate.
First, I don't use Feedburner, never have, never will.
However, if Google ties Feedburner to Google Reader that still hurts people like me, because my feed doesn't work as well with Google Reader.
Now let's take a deeper look at "doesn't work as well."
It could end up meaning "doesn't work at all." It's quite possible in the second or third iteration that Google drops support for non-Feedburner feeds. It wouldn't be unprecedented, far from it. Google Blogoscoped has a list of Google products that "prefer" other Google products. I've never seen Google not do this when they had the chance. The instant they bought Blogger they tied it to their toolbar. If they had used an open API the toolbar would have worked with all blogging tools. Google just doesn't think that way, sorry to say.
The ability of one user to opt out would do absolutely nothing to stop or even diminish the negative effects of monopolistic tying. And users show no inclination to do anything for the benefit of the Internet as a whole, so there's no reason to believe any of them would withhold their support of Feedburner just because it screws with the benefits of a level playing field in the RSS ecosystem. Certainly not enough to persuade Google not to tie the two products.
And if you still think opting-out is some kind of answer, consider that the whole point of tying is to penalize people who opt-out.
Note that I'm not asking anyone to do anything, and I'm not even saying Google is doing anything wrong. However, it could be that there are people at Google who understand the benefits of keeping things open, and if I can help them argue inside Google, then I feel I've done something good.
Betsy Devine has opted out of using MSIE, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have to deal with sites that only work with that browser (it isn't even available on the computer she uses).
Check out this comment by Kevin Marks. Hey works at Google.
Jeremiah Owyang explains how Google may favor Blogspot sites in the search engine.