For instance, my eyes end on "Training". I now get that the software can be trained, but at first you wonder if Newsblur offers training.
I also expect the pricing is too low. RSS is no longer mass market, but the people who use it tend to use it professionally. I will pay a LOT for something business critical that works well.
As an aside, anything that is a business expense can be 50% higher, assuming a 33% average tax rate. You must earn $150 to buy a $100 consumer good, but only $100 to buy a $100 business item.
1. The revenue (income/expenses) graph shows 16 months, not 12. Cut it off at March 2013 and you'll see a much healthier picture of NewsBlur's revenue.
2. Expenses are where they are because I let them get there. Notice that it's over 2/3rds payroll and subcontractors. That means it's all being invested back into NewsBlur. If I had to, I could easily cut down expenses, but then I wouldn't be building a better reader. I'm paying myself and my few subcontractors a healthy salary, which means we are sustainable at this rate.
And even with expenses where they are, as I've seen somebody do the math, revenue (which is recurring and will spike this month) far outpaces expenses. I don't show the dollar figures here, but there's enough in profit to hire a full-time engineer, which is something I plan to do with that secret project I alluded to at the end.
I don't think that's fair.
Google Reader was Blockbuster Video. It lacked the personality of all of the RSS Aggregators (aka mom'n'pop rental stores), but it looked nice, it had most of what you were looking for, and the price was fair (lol). But it was a giant, faceless and unchanging monolith.
Well, the brick and mortar rental DVD market is dead. And so is the cloud RSS aggregator market. Is it Blockbuster's fault that DVD rental died? No. It got replaced by better things. Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu+...
Cloud RSS Aggregation sure felt nice, but as a business, I'm not convinced it was at all sustainable. Being an inherently read-only medium, where you have to maintain a huge library of content to be useful, is shaky ground to me.
We like the technical idea of RSS, but we all read Facebook, Reddit, and HN. Why is that?
I read Facebook and HN, but I subscribe to Newsblur because there are other good ways to get news. To me, Newsblur is the text equivalent of my podcast app: My tool for paying attention to particular sources and making sure I don't miss anything. Podcasts are also an inherently read-only medium, and just like newsreaders, people making podcasting apps don't really have to maintain a huge library of anything; it's the podcasters who do that.
Or if they do, they shouldn't get to subsidize them.
Or if they do, they have to switch to profitable or exit the market really quickly, so as to not screw up the market.
Or if they aren't profitable, they have to just keep adding features and hope to one day get profitable.
I honestly don't get what people think Google should do. I mean, people are PISSED at Google over Google Reader shutting down. WHY? Companies fail with their products, all the time.
I think Google Reader should have either a) taken their product seriously, or b) shut it down as soon as they decided it wasn't a priority.
Put another way, Google should have recognized much earlier that their giant presence means that they can accidentally ruin markets and done the responsible thing. The more power you have, the more responsibility you have.
They spent large amounts of money preparing and operating Google Reader. There is no other way they could possibly prove to you that they took it more seriously, short of throwing MORE good money after bad.
They watched the growth curves, they added features (reader.google.com/play for one), they integrated with other products (Buzz), they waited for new products to be released and integrated with them as well (Google+).
At some point, they decided to leave the market.
Or they should have shut it down sooner? Before they added those features, before they integrated with other products, before the other products were released and before they integrated with them?
Taking it seriously = more time, more money.
Shutting down sooner = less time, less money.
It's apparently OBVIOUS to you exactly how much money they should have spent on it, how they should have prioritized their new features and integrations, and the precise date at which they should have shut down.
And it's so obvious to other people, that they get ultra pissed about it, and abandon all other Google products out of spite.
I wish I had your crystal ball.
Google Reader was well known within Google as an orphan project for a long time. Years before they shut it I was chatting with some Googler and Reader game up. He mentioned how impressive it was that it was still alive given how starved for resources it had been. I think he said that it was just one guy. And here's Reader's creator in 2011 acknowledging it was understaffed: http://massless.org/?p=174
So yes, they should have shut it down way sooner rather than starving it. That was irresponsible both internally (because it's a management failure) and externally (because they were harming a market that they weren't serious about).
> He mentioned how impressive it was that it was still alive given how starved for resources it had been.
Everyone's pet-project is understaffed. That's how passionate people will always describe their favorite projects.
If you divide man-hours by revenue, you'll note that Google Reader was getting pretty close to infinite resources.
> rather than starving it.
Most, if not all, RSS aggregators don't DREAM of having the software tooling, crawling and storage resources, DevOps, and visibility that Google Reader had.
I say again, I wish I had your crystal ball for the correct amount of resources, and the correct amount of time to spend on a project.
It's pretty easy to armchair quarterback, though.
Because RSS has no facility for discourse. It wasn't designed with that in mind. All the examples you mention are known for their userbase and commenting more than just simple aggregation.
RSS still has a place, and that is simple news consumption. I don't have an opinion on the technical aspects of RSS, I like it and use it every day because it's essentially my own tailored digital newspaper. Much like an actual newspaper, that isn't and will never be how many want to get their news. Still, the option is nice and Reeder is still one of the most important apps on my phone.
Yes, Reddit, HN and Facebook may get individual visits from many because they provide something that RSS doesn't. But for places that have a useless comment base like The Verge or Engadget, for places that have better articles than comments like Ars Technica, Anandtech and Re/code, RSS is the only way I access them.
Blockbuster was the death throes of rental video, not the glory days. And arguably Google Reader was the death throes of mass market RSS, kept around for awhile as a profitless zombie by Google's deep pockets.
What has since emerged is "niche market RSS" as a viable business for a few.
I think that is a digression, though. As is the concern of "we all read on ____". Because, first off, we don't. Quite a lot of us still read RSS feeds. I don't think many RSS feeds disappeared, just a big tool to read them.
What far fewer of us do, is talk about the things we read on RSS, because it is not an inherently social tool. Consider, if I find a neat article in an rss feed, the only way I can talk about it with my peers is to post it on facebook/g+/twitter.
Which is what Google Reader actually managed to bring to the table for RSS. I could share stories and have conversations in my peer groups. This actually even worked with Google Buzz. It was surprisingly nice.
The problem there, I think, is all of these conversations happened with no real intrusion from ads. Google had no real way to put "sponsored" stories into my rss feeds without it being glaringly obvious. There was no "trending now" feed that I was willing to subscribe to.
(maybe I'll try Newsblur...)
To me Facebook is all kid pictures and life hacks posting, interesting only when I want to see what my family is up to.
Reddit/HN are interesting for:
a.) Posts I haven't seen before, and
RSS solves neither, but it provides frequent updates for sites I'm interested in, which is a non-goal for reddit/HN. There's an interesting intersection between the two (RSS & social sites) in the comments. Why can't I see what other people have said about a story in my RSS feed?
I wouldn't be surprised if this hasn't be done before, but I haven't seen any RSS application/site do this.
Have a look at bazqux: https://bazqux.com/
Newsblur/The Old Reader have built in this feature, but I have maybe 2-3 friends on each service and it's just not vibrant.
Maybe the sharing aspect of Reader would have withered and died anyway, but I miss it dearly.
For the record, I'm a happy NewsBlur subscriber and will definitely renew my subscription.
It seems that they are counting subscription revenue at the time it is paid, rather than recognizing over the length of the subscription picture. The later would give you a much better idea on how the business is operating.
Otherwise, they're delusional.
How many of those panicked conversions are going to stick with the service, now that all the excitement has died down and they've had a whole year to really make up their mind as to whether a newsreader is something they need to be paying for.
Here's hoping the answer is yes. Looking forward to a followup in a few months time!
It's kind of shitty they didn't send out renewal reminders to give people a chance to cancel.
Newsblur should definitely remind folks lest they get a storm of complaints -- or worse get chargebacks.
Also, I was credited three free years for being an early adopter and I suspect many others were as well, so I really doubt a big revenue bump anytime soon.
And design, yea, at first glance. Much like some advanced software looks ridiculous at first glance.
I tested a lot of different readers before I eventually ended up at newsblur, am very happy with it.
I really wish they'd start charging for it.
I am more and more glad that self-hosting alternatives for applications I use exist. For me, the compromise between the technical challenge to install your own app vs. paying to have it installed shifts towards self-hosting almost every day.
I use the app as well and even though the "full" app version is not free ($4, one-time), it's definitely worth it.
Do people want a "better" news reader? I feel this would be profitable if you stopped wasting so much money.
The number of blog producers doesn't even need to be that large (relatively speaking) in order for a newsreader to be beneficial to blog consumers. Say that there were 10,000 blogs in the world. If you were interested in more than ten or so, it would be a hassle to visit each one on a regular basis to check for updates.
And yes, RSS is used beyond just blogs. Mainstream news sites often publish RSS feeds of their categories. News aggregator sites like HN tend to have RSS feeds as well.
Personally, I follow blogs, podcasts, news sites, Twitter accounts, Tumblrs, Torrent releases, automated software information and more.
There are a number of sources that I don't want to miss. This includes things that friends write. But the ones I really treasure are the people who are interesting alternative voices, the ones who in 5 years time might turn out to have been 5 years ahead of everybody else.
If you read what everybody else is reading, you'll only know what everybody else knows.
It might be that if he "pro-rated" the monthly payments for his annual accounts as $2/month payments for the future 12 months, he is net positive right now. It's hard for me to tell by eye from the graph, but it's probably close.
What rot. Using an RSS reader doesn't magically free you from your own biased news sources. If anything, it insulates you more into your own bubble.
I think the group he's talking about includes people who get all their news from one comfortable source and those who get all their news socially, which is also generally comfortable.
Hand-selecting sources for a feed reader doesn't guarantee that you'll end up with stuff that doesn't match your biases. In my case, though, I specifically include sources that are solid ones but that don't match my biases. So an RSS reader at least makes that possible.
It's open-source with a free hosted service. It works really well for me. I have been very impressed with the progress since inception and am subscribed to a monthly donation.
I used NewsBlur for a while, but didn't like the UI. I switched to InoReader.com, and love it.
its been a year now and i honestly don't miss google reader one bit. HN has become my news readers now :)