SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
"Yahoo and Microsoft are busy building out an 'RSS Everywhere' strategy. What is Google doing with RSS? They toyed with integrating RSS into Gmail - remember Web Clips?
Last month Google released an RSS Reader, which turned out to be average by industry standards. And they've implemented bits and pieces of RSS into Search and Google News. But compare Google's clumsy RSS experiments with the total acceptance of and immersion in RSS by Yahoo and Microsoft."
He then provides a theory for Google's apparent lack of enthusiasm on aggressively deploying RSS in it's services:
"Most of their huge take of advertising revenue comes to them via webpages - their own pages, plus external webpages that use Google Adsense. Google wants to ensure that huge revenue doesn't get siphoned off by RSS-izing everything. The Gmail 'Web Clips' feature mentioned above had adverts alternating with the content, so it was an unsubtle experiment at monetizing RSS."
So the reason for an apparently defensive game rather than playing offense is about protecting their massive advertising revenue flows, according to Richard.
On the surface, this would seem to provide an opportunity for Microsoft to go for the jugular if you will, as they did with Netscape almost a decade ago. There Microsoft deflated Netscape's ballooning revenues off it's 80% plus browser franchise by offering a free browser slowly integrated into Windows.
Here, a similar opportunity would be to forgo some of the advertising gravy train by using technologies like RSS to dissipate content outside of Google's web pages, dispersed into the edges where users reside. This is in effect is what Umair is suggesting in his detailed post today.
They didn't create opportunities for other tech companies to lock them in. That's where P/E comes from in the tech world. You need a growing community of businesses who depend on your survival to keep you growing."
I'd suggest that just as Microsoft initially created opportunities for developers and other tech companies to make money off their platform's success, Google has obviously done something similar with advertisers, both small and large.
As Dave puts it:
"I think Google misunderstands that their platform is advertising, that's a temporary transitional thing, the real platform is (doh) Search. Why do you think I called for their competitors to clone the Google API without the limits? Because I gave up on Google ever figuring this out."
Although, I don't see the advertising opportunity for Google as a "temporary transitional" thing at all, I do agree with Dave that one of Google's challenges is to bring the same economic opportunities to other technology companies and developers that they've brought to bear on the advertising front.
This is something that the company may be partly be focused on with Google Base , which of course is seeing a counter response by Microsoft with it's "Fremont" initiative for online classifieds announced today via CNET.
Although it may be early to call the turning of the worm as it were, the tactical moves with some of these emerging Web 2.0 technologies are definitely interesting as they're deployed by the GYMAAAE companies to best suit their existing and desired business models, along with their perceived tactical and strategic advantages.
RSS is definitely one of those technologies. But again, all participants must keep in mind, that these are but technologies, being crafted into products, services and features. The big test is how mainstream consumers eventually choose to make these things an everyday part of their lives, or not.
And it's all going to take a lot longer than we'd all like to think, so we need to collectively cool our heels on calling winners and losers at every move and counter-move in this very long, multi-player chess marathon.