Last night Yahoo! announced they are integrating RSS into their web mail and alerts products. As Scott Gatz explained in an interview with PodTech: Yahoo's plan, which started in January 2004 when they launched RSS in the My Yahoo portal, is to "bring RSS to the masses". I liked how Ben Barren described this as Yahoo's 'RSS Everywhere' strategy. If that's not Yahoo's slogan in regards to RSS, then it should be. Oh wait, Microsoft has already used it - back in June 05 when they announced RSS would be integrated into the Vista OS (then known as Longhorn). Microsoft has also since announced RSS integration within Windows Live and a new RSS extension getting big wraps, called SSE.
Which brings me to my point - 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.
Watching Google and RSS is like watching a high school student experiment with a chemistry set. Meanwhile Yahoo and Microsoft are busy inserting RSS into their DNA.
As I wrote back in April, I think Google wants to harness RSS. 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.
Perhaps Google should take a leaf from Yahoo and Microsoft's book and start immersing itself in RSS, instead of trying to harness it. As Dave Winer mused today, Google shouldn't try to lock in content. The value of RSS is that it's the best form of content distribution we have on the Web today. RSS - you're soaking in it. Hmmm, perhaps Yahoo should make that their slogan?