We're nearly halfway through 2005 and there's still no heavyweight competition for Bloglines in the Web-based RSS Aggregator stakes. And I'm not talking about an Aggregation service like MyYahoo and Firefox Live Bookmarks, which aggregate feeds either on a webpage (MyYahoo) or in the browser bar (Firefox Live Bookmarks). Although they are hefty competitors of Bloglines, they have limited functionality in terms of sorting and grouping feeds.
I'm talking about a full-featured Web-based RSS Aggregator that is equal to or surpasses the functionality of most desktop Aggregators. That's what Bloglines is and that, in tandom with their 'first mover' advantage, is why they are so successful today.
But what about the Web-based side of things - is anyone seriously challenging Bloglines?
Well there is Rojo, which is getting its fair share of, er, mojo - in the blogosphere. I must give that another go, because it looks like it's improved significantly since I last tried it (in its initial beta). There's Newsgator Online, which I've tried before and had some issues with the UI. Microsoft's start.com is still a glint in the milkman's eye, so nothing to report there. One new app that's popped up recently is FeedTagger, which is an early beta built with Ajax and which uses tagging a lot.
There are many others that I've not mentioned (sorry!), but my point here is to ask: is there a Web-based RSS Aggregator out there that will be a Bloglines Killer?
I love Bloglines, don't get me wrong. My profile page even shows yours truly in a "I love Bloglines" tee-shirt! But the User Interface of Bloglines is beginning to get very creaky. It still uses frames, for crying out loud! There's not a whiff of Ajax in the Bloglines UI and narry a hint of tagging. And I've begun to notice some minor technical glitches lately - feeds not being polled (this happened to R/WW a week or so ago - and Russell Beattie too), and some odd weird moments with logins. Nothing major, but enough to make you go Hmmmmm.
So my questions to throw out to the 'Sphere:
1. If Bloglines/Jeeves staff are reading this, can you tell us when you'll re-design the UI of Bloglines and add some new information management features (such as tagging)?
2. To others who read this: do you think there's another Web-based RSS Aggregator out there that will challenge Bloglines' dominance of this market?
UPDATE, 2 days later: There've been some excellent comments made on this post (hat-tip Dave Winer for linking to it). Lots of insightful suggestions and discussion about frames and tags and features in general. Also two Rojo developers chimed in, which led to an interesting email discussion including their CEO Chris Alden. The upshot of that is I've decided to trial Rojo over the next couple of weeks, to see what all the fuss is about. Also I've added a Rojo button to my blog, in exchange for Rojo adding Read/Write Web to their pre-selected feeds (which are a bit A-Listy actually, but hey it's one way for me to muscle in on the action).
Plus today Bloglines chief Mark Fletcher left a comment, saying that "we have a number a projects underway here at Bloglines to improve the user experience". Fantastic news! Thanks Mark for letting us know. I encourage people to keep your comments coming, because they are being read and noted by all the Aggregator companies.