What’s the big deal with Yahoo and RSS?

As TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington was one of the first to report, Yahoo is integrating RSS feeds into its new Ajax-powered Yahoo Mail (which is based in large part on Oddpost, the webmail company Yahoo acquired last year) and into its My Yahoo news and email alerts. There’s no question that this is a good thing — the more traction RSS gets, the better it will work. And as Richard MacManus of Read/Write Web points out, the fact that Yahoo is doing it across its various offerings is a way of “bringing RSS to the masses.”

But is it a good way? Maybe so. Some people sure seem to like the idea, including Charlene Li of Forrester Research, who says it’s just what she’s been waiting for. Even the often grumpy Dave Winer says that Yahoo has “hit a home run.” Michael Parekh seems to like the move as well, although Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion says it still has a few kinks that need to be worked out. Scott Gatz really likes it a lot, but then he works for Yahoo.

I must admit that I’m a little non-plussed by all the cheering (as is Paul Kedrosky)– and it’s not just because I didn’t get an invite to Yahoo’s beta test. Yes, it’s good to have RSS spread far and wide, but it’s not like Yahoo just drank the Kool-Aid on that subject — RSS feeds have been available as part of My Yahoo for at least a year or so, and all the company has really done is incorporate what Oddpost had into its new email service. It doesn’t even have any really cool features as far as I can see. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t feel any particular need to have RSS incorporated into my email — I’d rather use a standlone Web-based reader like Bloglines.com or netvibes.com.


Russell Beattie is a little over-excited about the whole thing — “insanely excited” is how he puts it — but I must admit he has a point when he says the most interesting thing about the announcement is the part that no one paid much attention to (including me), which is RSS alerts via SMS. News alerts from any blog or RSS feed to your phone, in other words. Now that has potential — and not just for RSS feed spam.

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